Monday, April 06, 2015
FIR B2B #25: How Yamaha Harmonizes a Diverse Customer and Channel Community
In this episode:
News & Trends
New McKinsey research makes the case that B2B purchasing decisions are not only growing increasingly complex but also evolving to resemble B2C buyer journeys. “Many more influencers and decision makers are now involved in the purchasing process, and business buyers too have been shaped by their consumer shopping experience,” McKinsey researchers Oskar Lingqvist, Candace Lun Plotkin, and Jennifer Stanley write. “Just as the digital revolution has transformed once-predictable consumer purchasing paths into a more circular pattern of touch points, so too business-to-business selling has become less linear.”
That means the pressure is on B2B companies to understand the buyer journey better, and the only way to do that is by speaking to buyers. Unfortunately, many sales reps still jealously guard access to their customers, inhibiting the flow of information that can make all sales and marketing professionals more productive.
Government agencies are loosening the reins on their scientists and increasingly allowing them to speak freely about their research, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. However, improvements are inconsistent, with agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention getting strong reviews for openness, but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration scraping the bottom of the barrel. Still, the improvements are an encouraging trend both for science and for vigorous scientific discussion.
Special Guest: Jeff Hawley, Director, Customer Experience Group, Yamaha Corp. of America
Although Yamaha is a household name in music circles, its sales and marketing strategy has until recently been strictly B2B. Like many big Japanese electronics firms, Yamaha makes a huge variety of products, with a particular focus on musical instruments and sound engineering technology. The company’s social media strategy needs to enable product groups to speak to customers in their own distinct language without losing the benefits of brand consistency. Yamaha also needs to communicate directly with consumers while being mindful of the needs of its B2B channel.
The company has recently been consolidating and unifying its Facebook presence in response to research that indicates that customers have a strongly positive association with the Yamaha brand regardless of the products they use. It’s dipping its toe into direct-to-consumer marketing for the first time. Jeff Hawley explains how customer insights are guiding his group’s thinking as it builds a consistent social media identity.
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About Your Hosts
Paul Gillin is a veteran technology journalist and a thought leader in new media. Since 2005, he has advised marketers and business executives on strategies to optimize their use of social media and online channels to reach buyers cost-effectively. He is the author or co-author of five books, including Social Marketing to the Business Customer (2011), the first book devoted entirely to B2B social media marketing. He is also a social media trainer and coach at Profitecture, a training firm for B2B companies and their channel partners.
Eric Schwartzman is a digital strategist with 15 years of experience selling and leading teams on the agency side in the development and delivery of innovative integrated marketing initiatives for multinational corporations, NGOs, federal government agencies and military commands. He is a frequent speaker at conferences all over the world on the topic of how technology is changing the way organizations communicate and the way people use media and information.
Follow Eric on Twitter at @ericschwartzman.
Eric’s expertise is in digital strategy, digital governance, content marketing, database marketing, user experience design, employee advocacy, education technology, digital multimedia production, B2B lead generation, search engine optimization and social media engagement techniques. He’s also the best-selling co-author of Social Marketing to the Business Customer.
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