B2B Industry and Digital Marketing. Complicated relationship!
“In Industry (B2B) lack the ability to risk and realize the advantages of digital”
Luis Mendes (LM) full interview with João Pintado (JP) about the reality of Digital Marketing and Social Selling in the B2B industry. Better understand why a complicated relationship between digital marketing and industry. Understand why is so complicated the relationship between digital marketing and industry.
It was in 2009 that João Pintado began to awaken to the need and potential of the digital world. Currently Marketing Director of Grupel SA, until reaching this position, the marketeer went through the experience of creating a digital marketing agency from an office in his house, which doubled the elements of the team and gained its own space in less than three years, an experience that according to him, “changed his life”.
Passionate “body and soul” by the Grupel brand, the professional assumes that he aspires to make it an “international reference with a billing volume that lives up to its reality.”
Get to know the story and perspective of this marketing strategist.
LM – What attracts you in marketing?
JP – The fact that it can be transversal to all departments of a company and, of course, the ability to add value to a particular brand/product/service. The influence of marketing on an organization is enormous. I think that today we have a fantastic time to be a marketer, it is an area with a brutal and constantly evolving dynamism, everything is too fast, there is no time to relax.
This attracts me because it can not be boring with all this dynamism, so the strategies need to be increasingly creative and elaborate to achieve results. The abundance of information and the “massacre” before the consumer is already so much that only adding value is able to succeed.
LM – In your opinion, what are the biggest advantages and potentialities of digital marketing?
JP – As a rule, I usually mention two things: doing more with less and all actions being measurable. When I say “doing more with less” I refer to the results that can be obtained with less investment than in traditional marketing, however, less investment does not mean less strategy (that nobody expects to invest € 50 and have a return of millions). Whether in digital or not, there needs to be strategy, goals, action plans and have the ability to analyze the results in a cool way. Sometimes we look at a 2 + 2 and want to see a 5, but the result will always be 4.
About the fact that actions are measurable, this is one of the great advantages, since with numbers, in my point of view, everything becomes easier to measure, analyze and improve. Whatever the investment must have a return, as simple as this, so the ability of digital with the results so clear is the best that an organization can have. This year, in an event, I heard the following “A number-based” discussion “among colleagues is much more constructive for the company than it is based on intuitions.” For me, this is what digital offers, facts and not intuitions that allow companies to improve their actions and minimize risks.
LM – How did you begin to navigate and eventually come to this “brave new world”?
JP – In 2009 I was in a small consulting company and I already felt the need to go beyond the “normal” website and other normal things of the time, felt that it was necessary to add something more to the clients that I managed and it was necessary to interconnect several media, so I started to being curious about how I could do this and outlining strategies that already used some digital media, including in the 2009 municipal elections, I managed a campaign where I had the opportunity to implement new “digital” ideas.
After a while, I ended up going out to a small advertising company, with a lot of clients but generating few revenues (prices too low), and once again I started to add value in proposals with ecommerce, social networks, email marketing, facebook apps , optimization of websites, etc. There came a time were huge clients which i already managed the social networks, but as was normal, practiced the values were too low to be able to devote more time to the projects. The reality of “we must have many for little money” was very much alive.
It was then in 2013 that I made the decision to say goodbye and invite 3 more people to start a dedicated digital agency, Live4Digital (L4D). I knew that there was a huge gap for this type of service in the district of Aveiro and, although many companies announced that they did everything and anything else, the fact is that they did nothing digital. The “brave new world” started here full-time.
LM – How was the experience of founding a digital marketing agency? What were the most positive aspects of this experience? And less positive?
JP – Risky! It changed my professional life (fortunately), but it was a risk in the middle of the Portuguese economic recession. None of the partners had experience in business management, but we knew of our value and ability to provide business services. Gradually we acquired this experience to manage the company and realizing that the availability for companies to invest in our work was very calculated, due to the cuts that were made by the organizations in their budgets at the time.
But that is what made everything even more rewarding and positive, despite these external constraints we were able to impose our value and quickly gain the trust of customers. I remember that we started working immediately for three municipal campaigns in 2013 and for AgitÁgueda.
It all started in my home office, shortly after it was necessary to move to a space shared with several companies, and finally we arrived at our own space in Aveiro and with twice the elements in the team (this in less than 3 years). We had to “break a lot of rock” for many companies to understand the capacity of digital, they were not used to it. The requests that came to us were often complete nonsense precisely because they did not realize what we could or could not do for the companies.
For a company that I founded and where I have been for about 3 years, I can not mention anything less positive, because 3 years go by very fast and everything is a learning process, that is, everything was seen as a normal process of growth, so something positive to evolve . Obviously there were sporadic situations of conflict, but nothing very serious, everything normal between clients, team and partners.
LM – At the digital marketing level, and from your experience, how would you classify the state of art in Portugal with regard to this subject?
JP – It was much worse, of course, but I still think it could still be a lot better. We have great professionals in this area, great companies with fantastic projects and results, but unfortunately I still see many who call themselves experts, but what about practical results ?! Anything! That annoys me a bit, today giving a conference, creating blogs, copying subjects is all very easy and this leads many people to fall into the trap. There are many cheap talks to sell “snake lard”. But then there are those who know a lot about the subject, the best on a global level, with evidence given in projects and well-deserved recognition.
I would like to highlight the work that has been done in Lisbon and Porto to boost this area, with the attraction of technological companies that require increasingly qualified digital labor and this will force us to evolve. Even the Government has driven this area, for example with industry 4.0.
In five years I think the differences will be enormous. On the other side of the issue, that of companies, where in digital services and B2C the digital is already the most important, but if we look at the industry (B2B) is to get their hands on the head, we are light years of other realities . Lack of ability to risk and realize the advantages. It is still very “traditional” and archaic.
LM – Is there conscience, in your understanding, in the Portuguese business environment of the power of social networks and digital media and tools to boost sales and increase brand awareness?
JP – In the industry (B2B,) where I enter, we are still far short of having this conscience. There are exceptions, of course, and fortunately in Grupel, we belong to this exception because there is the superior ability to realize the advantages that this can bring to the company and to take risks, otherwise I would not be able to do what I do.
If we think only of the district of Aveiro, we have a very strong business structure, with dozens of excellent B2B companies, but then it is a disaster the way they use and face digital media. The fact is that many of the digital marketing courses that exist, focus very little on the industry, so it also becomes difficult to change the mindset.
LM – In your perspective, what is the relevance of social selling these days? Why?
JP – For me, it’s really the area that I’m most passionate about at the moment, the ability we have been able to generate sales/notoriety through social networks, so it has a very high relevance for me and for my day-to-day life. This is an area that has been growing and gaining more and more importance in organizations, but in Portugal is still something that is in a very embryonic state. A short time ago I wrote an Linkedin article on this topic, because it is something that I have worked very hard in recent times and we have achieved excellent results in Grupel.
When you are part of an organization there is always a present goal: to generate return for the company. If we can do it through social networks, the better. Through social selling, this is what we have done over the last year, and is even one of the first companies in Portugal to work with Sales Navigator as an essential tool in international prospecting (we export 81%).
With social networks we can:
- Close more deals with fewer visits (trips);
- Credibility of the brand at a distance;
- Prepare the way for a faster sale.
LM – Of all the strategies you have implemented so far, which one has given you the most work? And more joy? Why?
JP – The one still in force, make Grupel a global brand and international reference in the industry in which it is inserted (diesel and gas generators). The challenge is enormous because it is an unattractive industry (metallurgical industry, plate, motors, alternators, etc.) that is “hidden” in the eyes of people, but is more present than we think about our life hospitals, shopping centers, offices, datacenters, etc.), but it is not so visible. This requires us to work for a very specific audience, with very technical aspects and competing with giant multinationals.
The results we have obtained in recent years (annual growth of 20%) reveal that the strategy is on the right path and this gives us such “joy”. In the last edition of the Dubai Fair (Middle East Electricity), one of the largest world trade fairs in our industry and where all the major brands, our work and stand were present, were the most praised and still remain, we continue to receive this feedback of the managers of this fair in Dubai. They themselves say that their marketing colleagues are always praising our “kind of marketing”. That is why I consider this to be the strategy that continues to give more work and more joy. We are on the right way!
LM – And what do you consider less accomplished? What would you do differently at this time in relation to it?
JP – A tricky question, because as I said before, in L4D I will look at everything as positive for the learning process and growth of the company. I honestly do not remember anything that went so badly, but maybe he could have trusted me and my abilities more, I think that was what he would have done differently.
At Grupel, so far, there is also no strategy that has regretted me. Of course in the defined strategy there are aspects that did not go so well and we had to reformulate, but it was not the strategy itself, I believe that in this aspect we are on the right path. The numbers indicate this.
LM – Embraced the project Grupel SA as Director of Marketing. What are the characteristics that most identify with this brand?
JP – The cliché response is “the energy of the company.” The truth is that within the Grupel there is enormous potential to grow, the team is excellent and the product has quality. When it does, I end up being more motivated and identified with the project because I know that my work will be recognized and have results.
There is a huge desire in every department to do more and more and better, until our color (orange) conveys liveliness and dynamism of the company, is a color that marks. All this helps to be identified with the project and was an opportunity that appeared at the right time.
LM – What were the main challenges you encountered in this project?
JP – Brand awareness, consistency of communication, the lack of correct use of digital tools and the internationalization of the company. This was the biggest initial challenge. Fortunately we have managed to put all this in the right way and we continue to work very carefully on these aspects. Every month we measure and analyze the results obtained. In fact, the first thing we do daily with the commercial team is a meeting to analyze the ongoing projects and try to intervene as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to achieve business success.
We always looked at what was done the day before. It’s almost as if we tried to intervene in real-time in the negotiations. The use of CRM allows us to have the data all inserted and whenever we want we analyze the numbers to see where we need to improve. All commercials have the responsibility to keep CRM as up-to-date as possible with their daily activities. The internationalization of the company and the process of how to do it have undergone some changes since I joined Grupel. At this point it is the marketing that has the responsibility of starting this prospecting job to get qualified leads from potential distributors.
This challenge is huge and of great importance to the company. In addition to all this, we now have a larger team that allows us to devote more attention to other aspects of the company, such as preparing the launch of a product with our brand. As you can see, the challenges are constant and will continue to be.
LM – What are your biggest professional ambitions for the future? What do you believe you have yet to realize and what you intend to achieve?
JP – I have to be honest, I really wanted to have the opportunity to one day be able to dedicate myself 100% to a business where I could focus on the company’s product portfolio and work on it every day. This is what happens at this moment and I do not think much about the future or what I see myself doing in two years. I have the notion that today jobs are very volatile and opportunities more and more, but it is at Grupel that I see myself in body and soul.
It is also at Grupel that I intend to realize my greatest ambition: to make this company an international reference with a billing volume that lives up to its reality. I know it’s possible and we can do it. When we get there I want to look back and realize that, with me, it was possible to grow to a global dimension. This will make me even more proud and fulfilled.
Article by Luís Mendes.