Q&A: Sandra Zoratti, VP of marketing solutions, Ricoh

Sandra Zoratti, VP of marketing solutions at Ricoh discusses the changing landscape of b-to-b marketing.

Q: How has your approach to b-to-b marketing shifted as workplace technology has changed?

A: We know that the thing to focus on is the message versus the medium. It’s really the customers’ choice of how they receive the information we’re sending. We have gone from being print to multichannel, where we’re using data to drive insights and to create relevant messages that engage the customers. I am one of those marketers who strongly believes that it’s not an either/or, it’s a coexistent message.

Q: Do you have an example of this “coexistent” approach?

A: Last September and again in February, we partnered with the CMO Council in producing a magazine that went from just email to print, email and iPad. For the next issue we will go print, email, every e-reader. Our audience is saying, “We do not have consumers as our membership, but we have people around the world who like to receive information in different ways,” so we let it be individual but we make the information similar by channel, offered in all the channels, then optimize the way the information is presented by channel.

The three versions of the magazine are very distinct in what they offer. There’s the print, which we will soon customize the content by geographical region, compared to the iPad version, which has a lot more interaction, then we have the email version where really we’re trying to spark interest and get readers to move to websites and different vehicles that will give them more depth in areas where they have the most interest. So we’re letting them self-select.

Q: That reflects a more flexible workplace and overall decision making. How has the growing emphasis on remote working impacted how you reach decision makers?

A: According to Gartner, 90% of today’s enterprises have remote workers. That’s huge. I think what that’s saying is that all of us are on-the-go, and we need the toolkit to be able to function on-the-go. One of the things that Ricoh showcased last year was an iPad app that would let people print on the go from their iPad. Meeting customers at their point of need is key.

B-to-b marketing on the go

With each individual able to carry their business around with them on a tablet or phone, b-to-b marketing has sought a number of ways to reach on-the-go executives.

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If we had a generic message that went through your preferred channel, if the message is impersonal, it is still a bad message regardless of if I got the right channel. It’s important that I know about your behavior and propensity to purchase, and to actually customize the message. We are really moving toward data-driven marketing, what we call precision marketing.

We found through a study of 1,000 consumers who we surveyed that 63% said they would disengage from a brand if they continued to get irrelevant messaging. B-to-b marketing is still selling to an individual at that business, so if you inundate them and don’t speak to their needs, you are going to get brand disengagement. Not just an unsubscribe, but the possibility that you may lose a customer.

Q: So that personal touch is as critical for b-to-b as it is for b-to-c?

A: For b-to-b marketers, the real benefit is that you can know who your customers are on an individual level, versus b-to-c where it’s one to many-many-many. We have been able to conduct integrated marketing campaigns that use social media, online, email, direct mail and a face-to-face event that we host. We build it in sort of a crescendo where we take them from prospects to actual leads and bring them to our facility to have a networking educational event where we all learn more and come up with mutually beneficial business prospects.

With a b-to-c company, you do not have that luxury often because you have so many customers you are trying sell to. That’s a real point of leverage for b-to-b marketers, and we have found it to be highly successful in moving us into new industries, exposing us to new customers and generating incremental revenue.

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