Adapting Marketing Strategies to Keep Pace with Market Innovation
“Consumers are getting used to seamless and customized solutions in digital channels. More power resides with the buyer. B2B and B2C have merged into B2P (business-to-people).”
Volvo CE, 2021 Annual and Sustainability Report
As we’ve seen from our research, European Heavy Equipment marketers and brands are being pushed, or pulled, into modernization by the demands and expectations of small and medium-business (SMB) buyers, influencers, and users of earthmoving, agricultural, and material-handling equipment. It is good to see leaders in the industry like Volvo CE acknowledge the need for more frictionless customer experiences, especially as it relates across digital touchpoints.
The challenge we face as marketers is to put that knowledge to good use and find, engage, motivate, and retain current and prospective SMB customers. I don’t think it’s controversial to say our marketing trails the innovations we’ve seen in products, services, and solutions. The “Green Revolution” has ignited new market expectations leading to the manufacturing of smart, energy efficient machinery.
But what’s driving customer expectations and what can we do to meet them now and in the future? Here are four thoughts on the subject that may help move the conversation forward.
#1 Connect with a New Generation of Buyers and Influencers
Some reports have noted that by 2025, upwards of 75% of B2B decision making could be led by GenY/GenZ. This new workforce will not only be making the buys but are already influencing B2B decisions and the brands their SMBs engage with and retain. They go beyond being digital natives, they are frictionless natives, a group that expects the same experiences whether online or offline. This growing buying and influencing segment means that Heavy Equipment brands, and their dealers, are under increasing pressure to deliver the best experiences alongside delivering the best products and services. This also requires a digital-first mentality for us marketers.
#2 Build Brand Loyalty in an Increasingly Brand-Agnostic World
While brand experiences will drive equipment purchase decisions, more importantly, they will drive brand loyalty and advocacy. This is not just a brand and marketing responsibility, but an overall company responsibility. For SMBs, and especially the new workforce, brand trust is critical for retention. It’s actually the #1 driving force behind who SMBs will do business with again. And trust is born from consistency and continuity every time and everywhere your customers encounter you. Omnichannel needs to be a strategy and mantra championed across all areas of the company.
#3 CX R&D is as Important as Product R&D
R&D investments are primarily earmarked for product and service teams. Innovation is critical to gaining and maintaining a competitive advantage. Businesses must start applying that same mentality to Customer Experiences. CX innovations can help us adapt to customer demands, address this new “expectation economy,” and allow us to continually test and optimize CX across the company. This may require CX R&D teams to be standalone units inside an organization. This can not only help build more frictionless experiences and more brand trust as noted in #1 and #2, but it can also finally help build the critical bridges between brand, marketing, sales, product, and service departments and teams. Put simply, building a customer-centric vs company-centric operation.
#4 Predict What’s Next for Heavy Equipment Brands
The exciting part of all this for European heavy equipment brands and marketers is no one is clearly leading the category when it comes to brand, marketing, and CX innovation. So, while the pressure to innovate is real, the reality is most of the heavy equipment space is still rooted in traditional approaches. Those companies that are willing to question the status quo, realize that everything needs to start and end with the customer in mind, and continually innovate CX across the company, are the ones that will begin to separate themselves from the pack.