One of British telecommunications firm BT Global’s biggest challenges is managing its offering of approximately 2000 products and services, and a diverse client base ranging from consumer goods giant Unilever to logistics firm DHL.
“An insight into our customers is increasingly at the centre of how we approach marketing,” said Ruth Rowan, chief marketing officer, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa at BT. “It’s actually the analysis and insight that we got from our data which built the business case for us to grow in Asia.”
Investment into its data capabilities allowed it both to help its sales team to improve targeting, and to help its marketing team to optimise branding work.
Five years ago, the firm began investing in its proprietary Key Account Marketing (KAM) platform, what Rowan calls the B2B equivalent to the consumer analytics platforms run by some of the major marketing agencies on behalf of their brand clients. This allows the company to gather information on key customers and decisions makers in real time.
“Here in Asia we’re targeting about 1,250 accounts…in each account, there are about 10 decision makers. Thus, in our region, there are 12,000 people we’re trying to influence,” said Rowan. KAM acts as the central tool of insights and data on these individuals.
“The KAM portal is a 24/7 engine, a bit like Google, which searches across every single publicly available information source, including Bloomberg, Reuters, LinkedIn and others,” added Rachael Bell, head of marketing SEA and account based marketing, APAC at BT.
The information is processed and then fed back to the relevant sales account manager, who then has a basis for client conversations. This information is crucial for a company like BT, whose sales aren’t driven by simple cold-calling: “You can’t just ring someone up and ask if they’d like to buy a network,” said Bell.
What BT has managed to do is to effectively process large volumes of data, and turn it into smart data that the entire company is able to utilise. According to Rowan: “The KAM portal has given (BT) a single point of truth about the customer”, which is crucial for a company that services large clients globally. In this way, BT has used its data capabilities to become a more globally aligned organisation.
The benefits it derives from its KAM portal aren’t just limited to the sales team: The marketing team has used it to optimise its targeting efforts. “So many marketing teams get paralysed by not getting the right segmentation into their systems,” said Rowan. The KAM portal allows them to do this very quickly and effectively. “If we know, for example, that 90% of our banking customers are talking about security, then we know what our marketing campaign will look like,” said Bell.
Most importantly, its data capabilities give BT what marketers all over the world crave: Legitimacy. “It also allows us to have a voice around the boardroom and de-risk what we do,” said Rowan. Hence, instead of being told what the business’ strategy is and catering to that, the marketing department gets to play an active role in setting it, thus turning it into a real value driver for the company.
Marketing Magazine’s first B2B marketing forum will be held on 28 November at Four Seasons Hotel Singapore. Hear from Rowan and other senior marketers at the event. More details here.
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