In my previous blog, I talked about the need to humanise marketing. Another natural instinct for all of us is the need to be social – working with others rather than alone. The sum of parts is always greater than the whole when you work together with others who have the same objectives.
Consider the Apple and AT&T collaboration few years ago – AT&T benefitted from being the first company to exclusively offer iPhones, while Apple benefitted from AT&T’s channel for distribution and customer base. Hershey’s partnered with Betty Crocker to create the chocolateiest brownies ever! These partnerships deliver on two vectors – delighted customers and market share gains for all the brands involved.
Whether it is teaming a car manufacturer with a theme park to attract the family segment, or pairing pizza with online gaming, or aligning toys with food – corporations today are looking to create strategic alliances that tap ways to be more appealing to their customers in areas in that they don’t necessarily compete – providing incremental marketing exposure and ultimately gaining new customers.
The best marketing advice I ever heard was to dream big and market well – the success of a concept requires so much more than just a good idea. There have been many examples of excellent products that have failed to win over the hearts and minds of consumers. The electric car maker Tesla is a great modern success story. The company understood its market exactly and also how to target effectively. It was not innovation for innovation’s sake. This enabled Tesla to win the race against some more established players in the automotive sector. Picking up from what Tesla did, it is up to the marketer to take the unknown, unfamiliar concept and make it appealing to the target audience. Only when a product seamlessly integrates into the customer’s life, will it truly succeed. Seamless integration relies upon effective partnerships.
B2B marketing may be considered very different from B2C, however, permeating the lives of decision makers in their everyday lives is equally important for B2B brands as for B2C brands – what we ultimately want is for our customers to start thinking about our brands in a different way. It is about increasing positive brand currency and simultaneously contributing to the overall value of the business.
One recent example that brings this to life is the Heathrow Express (nicknamed the Tata Express by media!). Built around the message ‘We’re the connection’, Tata Communications’ sponsorship of Heathrow Express is part of a wider marketing strategy to raise awareness of Tata Communications globally. Not many people might know that 24% of all internet traffic is routed through our global fibre-optic cable network or that our customers can reach 99.7% of the world’s GDP using our services and infrastructure. We are also partnering with our customers (such as Aetna, the American managed healthcare company) for joint branding on the Heathrow express – very much like a media partnership. Interestingly, a branding of the onboard WiFi service on the Heathrow Express resulted in a 50% jump in traffic to our website.
We aim to show the passengers on the Heathrow Express that Tata Communications is the connection between them and their customers and partners, powering the growth of their business. Given 69% of the 5 million people who use the Heathrow Express every year are business passengers, this is the ideal platform for us to highlight to them that ‘We’re the connection’ – we seamlessly connect consumers to commerce, human to human and one business collaborator to another, at the highest speed possible. These initiatives boost the value of our brand currency. But the very essence of “we’re the connection” has partnerships at its core.
The use of such partnerships is a powerful marketing tool in the right context, and we’re set to see more and more B2B marketers leveraging this power in the future. Positioning the brand as an innovator, for example, is more effective when working in cohesion with like-minded innovative organisations. It’s crucial that one partners with a brand that is aligned with theirs, which is the rationale behind our sponsorship of the Heathrow Express and our ‘We’re the connection’ campaign.
Customers ultimately see through ‘vanity partnerships’ and it’s with the intellectual integrity to find the right partners that add value to the brand strategy. Such partnerships strengthen the brand beyond the confines of traditional media. For example, we know that a press release with a partner can generate an AVE of anything between $500k and $10mn in brand value. Furthermore, using business-to-human tactics allows us to reach broader audiences and stimulate different reactions from the people we want to influence.