Yes, 2023 is two months away, but it’s only two months away. Advertisers have a lot of preparing to do, and a lot of reorganising. Since the global markets recharged in January this year, we’ve been playing catch-up, but what most B2B marketers are failing to do is anticipate markets that are either reopening or are about to experience weakness because they are still reacting to the reopening of nine months ago.
We all know that B2B marketing is extremely specialist. It’s usually a large enterprise speaking to a very limited number of people, not unlike finding a needle in a haystack. Take aircraft makers, they’re interested in maybe 10,000 people globally: people who buy planes, people who lease places, and people who own airlines. B2B marketing has always been good with loyalty by encouraging a small group of buyers to follow a set of programmes to become continuously loyal. So a marketer’s role is quite critical in creating the ‘What does it mean to use our brand?’.
Even so, marketers are often reactive rather than proactive. Because of the complexity of global and local relationships, campaigns take months of coordination—it really boils down to major, global companies not gearing their programmes and processes to macroeconomic trends. While global marketers operate at a global level and know a lot of situations happening politically and economically, most B2B marketers need about a year to create campaigns and creatives.
The four things B2B marketers should work on beginning now are: data and security compliance, glocal (both global and local) creative assets, collaborative innovation playbooks, and centres of excellence.
Step 1: Becoming data and security compliant
Sitting from a global standpoint, you have access to information such as privacy laws, information transfer, advertising protocols, marketing protocols. Distributing that knowledge to local markets helps them to not make the wrong mistakes because many regional teams are multinational like EMEA, LATAM/Americas, and APAC. But even these regions have differing privacy laws, like China’s PIPL in APAC or California’s CCPA in the Americas.
Eventually, B2B marketing leads to B2C, meaning that marketers have to be uber aware of what their campaigns require in terms of data collection. Central marketing teams should coach and set up tools/digital practices to disseminate this information to local marketers.
Basically, central teams can use their knowledge of regional laws to set up multinational campaigns that work for all privacy laws in that region.
Step 2: Creating glocal creative assets
Global B2B marketers are always worried about creating marketing that’s too [insert country here]. What makes sense for the country you’re headquartered in may not make sense for the countries you sell in. In an unstable economy where we still have to do brand marketing and still have to do stunts, make creatives that are universally acceptable, universally understandable, and account for the majority of your population. Here’s how to make those:
- Account for multiple shots of different ethnicities to address a global B2B audience in the same production, thereby saving money.
- Make a creative that does not contain an excessive amount of voiceover so that you can leave it to the supers in any language.
- Go back to a universal truth. What is the universal truth in buying your product or being loyal to your product or converting to your product? What is it that you add? Have a clear, distinctive, singular USP (unique selling proposition) for why you’re better than your competitors. You exist around that USP.
Over the last few years regional marketing has been strong, and many regional marketers have said “Well, we’ll take this global tagline and adapt it locally and create our own sets of creatives,” but because of economic instability, the burden of setting these creatives is back on global marketing, central marcomm. What you create needs to reflect the USP and be as relevant to a person in Saudi Arabia as a person in Colombia.
Step 3: Founding centers of excellence
A group of marketers sitting in headquarters is lovely, but B2B marketers are often straddled with solely central marcomm models. Central marcomm works best when delegating specialised tasks to specialised places.
For example, a global organisation based in Mexico has offices all over the world. Let’s say that the organisation's PR in Mexico is not great, but it’s great in the Netherlands. The Netherlands team would then be in charge of PR, and maybe the Brazil team would be in charge of production.
All the product videos, video instruction manuals, how-to guides and expert guides, don’t distribute it. Make it in that region. Credit and continue to credit that region and develop localised marketing relationships. When organisations delegate specific tasks to specific regions, it makes the process smoother, faster, and more universal.
Step 4: Making an innovation playbook
Step four goes hand-in-hand with step three. Most B2B marketing organisations try to cannibalise and compete with their regional teams. Not only is that a waste and does not support the retailer, but also global central marcomm should focus on creating innovation playbooks. These innovation playbooks look at the entire organization and set up guidelines to distribute to all regions.
This concept goes for all aspects of campaigns—delegate projects to specialised regions, create a playbook, and share it with all the other regions. The innovation playbook creates consistent shareability that brings regions closer to the central marcomm rather than causing competition between regions.
Everything returns to being proactive and highlighting the company’s USP. Global organizations don’t want to risk inconsistencies, and as the global market continues to open up, it’s best to set up an innovation playbook now rather than after a crisis.
Humphrey Ho is managing director of Hylink USA.