Build Trust to Drive Growth

Article

Build Trust to Drive Growth

TMT CMOs Harness Pandemic-Era Trends

Restrictions on in-person interaction since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic have thrust Telecommunications, Media, and Technology (TMT) services into the spotlight, and CMOs recognize that connecting and sharing information are now “mission-critical” functions for many organizations. As a result, customers have started to demand more of TMT brands before placing their trust in them. How can TMT CMOs respond to this and other customer trends while ensuring their companies remain true to their organizational purpose? How can they best position brands to achieve and sustain growth during and beyond this period of change? To truly understand what this unprecedented moment means for the TMT industry, Deloitte engaged several CMOs at Dutch TMT organizations and Deloitte industry leaders to get their perspectives.

Summary

  • “Trust” is one emerging trend that TMT CMOs are navigating with a fresh perspective as companies adapt to meet customers’ new needs and values. Many CMOs consider trust as the most important trend to set the stage for growth.
  • The TMT industry has adapted to increasing digitalization ahead of many other sectors over the past decade, so its CMOs are experienced at building trust in the digital era, but the task has become more complex.
  • TMT CMOs are stepping outside their traditional roles as they contend with these and other trends since the start of the pandemic. Increasingly, they are moving beyond branding and advertising functions, for example, and taking the lead in holding the entire organization accountable for embedding a strong, apt purpose into all its activities.
  • The role of the CMO is becoming increasingly complex, CMOs need to continue with their core marketing skills while at the same time become a leader and visionary in regard to customer experience by owning the data, decisioning and experience.

Emerging TMT marketing trends

“Trust” is one emerging trend that TMT CMOs are navigating with a fresh perspective as companies adapt to meet customers’ new needs and values. Many CMOs share the conviction of Ivo Roefs, CMO of information technology firm Schuberg Philis, that trust “is the most important trend as we strive to become a super brand, and our confidence and ability to deliver is crucial.”

The TMT industry has adapted to increasing digitalization ahead of many other sectors over the past decade, so its CMOs are experienced at building trust in the digital era, but the task has become more complex.

Before the pandemic, TMT brand loyalty was not particularly strong. Consumers generally gave attention to their TMT service providers only when they experienced problems. In contrast, customers are now proactively seeking brands they believe they can trust to constantly deliver on promises.

Trust breaks down if delivery doesn’t meet expectations, and then TMT brands lose customers; this is a particular risk now that TMT services have become essential, and demand may outpace a company’s ability to meet it. Effective CMOs recognize that companies need a clearly defined purpose to avoid this breakdown. “Purpose” – precisely defining why an organization exists and whom it is built to serve – is another marketing trend with heightened importance to the TMT industry in the COVID-19 era.

TMT CMOs are stepping outside their traditional roles as they contend with these and other trends since the start of the pandemic. Increasingly, they are moving beyond branding and advertising functions, for example, and taking the lead in holding the entire organization accountable for embedding a strong, apt purpose into all its activities.

CMOs addressing evolving customer values

Jilles Limburg, CMO of the mobile telecommunications and landline company KPN, spoke to Deloitte about the role of the KPN brand’s purpose in fostering customer trust. In the past, KPN aimed to enable its customers’ “digital transformation,” but the company found that this purpose did not match its core strengths or its customers’ values.

“We want to be seen as the most reliable provider,” Limburg reflected, explaining KPN’s subsequent shift from the brand promise “Feel Free” to “The network of the Netherlands.” KPN identified and embraced a responsibility to Dutch society to deliver its services consistently. “Trust is the most important element of our brand positioning,” Limburg said.

KPN’s experience illustrates that to build trust in these turbulent times, CMOs should be pinpointing what customers value, rather than assuming that demographics tell the whole story. To gain a thorough understanding, CMOs can take advantage of continuous learning opportunities to boost their data capture and analysis capabilities. They should also surround themselves with data-savvy team members and partners. Then CMOs can work with C-suite colleagues to ensure their organizations’ promises are in sync with those values, and with the companies’ competence to deliver on them.

Like KPN, cyber-security firm Irdeto has shifted its marketing. The firm’s marketing team recognized an opportunity to accelerate a change they had been planning since before the pandemic, according to Steeve Huin and Lisa Spencer, the respective Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Marketing. Exemplifying the marketing trend “agility,” Irdeto pivoted quickly from a traditional tradeshow/event marketing approach to a primarily digital one, connecting more efficiently with customers.

Historically, we ran more than 65 events – tradeshows and bespoke activities – every year to support all business units; almost overnight, that was cut down to zero. We’ve since doubled down on all of our digital efforts, positioning our website as our ‘evergreen’ booth, using martech to help optimize usage and conversion. Although we will participate in those key events again when they open up, with a 90% increase in lead gen vs last year, we see a digital-first approach here to stay.

Irdeto discovered that the operating changes necessitated by the pandemic gave employees time to focus on thoughtfully executing the transformation, without the pressure of simultaneously managing face-to-face events. Huin and Spencer have been encouraging the company’s employees to creatively “move marketing up the ladder from a vendor that sets up a booth at a tradeshow to a more collaborative partner when developing strategy.”

Despite the advantages of a digital marketing approach, there is a risk that customers will fail to make an emotional connection to brands. Huin and Spencer countered this with a focus on trust. But without the benefit of in-person networking, generating trust among customers in new target markets posed a challenge for Irdeto.

One solution was to re-envision the company’s website as a virtual tradeshow booth. The Irdeto website now generates leads and starts conversations, and personal connections follow. A lesson for CMOs from Irdeto’s experience is to identify the points along the customer journey when they should arrange for human outreach to supplement digital interaction, to meet the emotional needs of the customer. CMOs should also make their brand promise consistent across the company’s digital touchpoints.

While addressing customers’ needs is critical to ensure business continuality, for Ivo Roefs, CMO of Schuberg Philis, this is a slightly different story. He sees marketing as the lubricant and when this is flowing effectively through the business, which has a huge effect on trust and partnerships. Sales tend to increase, go to market offerings are further refined, industry expertise increases, people want to join your company and employees want to stay. The ability to communicate and drive your brand purpose is crucial and while the voice of the customer and their ever-evolving needs are highly important, CMOs need to consider how they do this from both inside and outside their own organisation. It’s critical that your own employees share and believe in the same purpose that is communicated to your customers as they are your most valuable asset and ultimately the connection between your customers and the organisation. Our believe is that our people make the difference. “I think all businesses would benefit by having a little Schuberg Philis inside of them” quotes Ivo, the challenge is driving the purpose inside and outside of the organisation.

Schuberg Philis is market leader in solving mission-critical IT problems. “We take away headaches of C Suite when it comes to IT and create opportunities when it comes to business challenges”, Ivo says. Armed with the competencies to excel, Schuberg Philis realized the need to accelerate this ambition and communicate their purpose to a much bigger audience. Ivo Roefs, a highly regarded brand builder and the veteran advertiser was recently tasked with the role of CMO and responsible for taking Schuberg Philis to the next level. “In advertising we are focusing on trust for decades, we need to know the customer, their needs and interests and to build up a relationship and brain position. Without trust, you can’t build a long lasting relationship.”

Silver lining to new marketing landscape

The profile of the TMT CMO has been changing from that of a marketeer to a “transformation agent” in recent years. Before the pandemic, the most successful CMOs were using data and technology to drive their marketing approach. But now more than ever, CMOs like those at KPN, Schuberg Philis and Irdeto are not just responsible for marketing, branding and advertising; they are stepping up as leaders in orchestrating the customer experience, and cultivating new marketing skills in themselves and among their team members.

The role of the CMO is becoming increasingly complex, CMO’s need to continue with their core marketing skills while at the same time becoming a leader and visionary in regard to customer experience. Stephen Ward, Leader of Deloitte Digital NL and Senior TMT partner states “in order to be successful as a CMO, you need to own the data, own the decisioning and the delivery of experience, as well as surrounding yourself with the right complementary skills to make sure that you are successful as a team”.

Astute CMOs are also gathering data on evolving customer values, to shape new digital content strategies that reflect brand purpose and promote trust. They are reimagining the services they provide and expanding the boundaries of what they can achieve with their online presence.

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