Digital Mediachannels Lack Wow Factor

Yesterday I was invited for a CMO roundtable organized by @RonaldVelten, European Marketing Director of IBM. An interesting set of VP’s and Marketing Directors of high profile brands Unilever, Heineken, T-Mobile, Samsung and Heineken. A small setting where everybody was really engaged discussing many topics that were put on the table. IBM’s Ronald Velten was our host, Bas van Werven our moderator and the central theme: ‘The customer as an individual’. Some interesting research results of interviewed CxO’s conducted by IBM. But most interesting for me was a glimps behind the T-Mobile marketing scene given by Raymond Perrenet. A highly commoditized market dominated by only a few brands. The services are exactly the same, the smartphones are identical, overall market value is declining and over the top competitors like Whatsapp and Facebook take away substantial revenue streams from them. With relatively high churn rates approximately 5 million consumers are ‘in the market’ every year to conquer. So the key question here: how to differentiate from your competition?


If the products and the services are the same, than experience is the only direction to gain sympathy is by making an emotional connection with prospects and customers. For a brand like T-Mobile, part of multinational Deutsche Telekom, I can imagine that this is a huge challenge. A German brand by nature has less emotion in itself. And although sub brands like Simpel and Ben do have a stronger fan base, the high volumes are really in the T-Mobile arena. The story of Raymond is about shifting from a transaction oriented approach to an interaction and experience approach. A nice structured approach with dilemmas, plans and solutions how to make this transition. Interesting to see their battles which are completely different than ours. Their game is about making the least decline, our game is control extreme growth. Their market is commoditized, we are in an emerging market. Like our ad agency just told us: all lighst are on green, it doesn’t really matter in which direction, but just start to run, fast!all lighst are on green, it doesn’t really matter in which direction, but just start to run, fast! Various topics are addressed, facilitating the conversation instead of owning the conversation by social media. All to give T-Mobile a much more human face. Engage with customers to really get to know them and even go a step further than co-create, in-create. Maybe one of the best kept secrets of T-Mobile is their brand *bliep. Run by youngsters, teenagers with literally no boundaries. Facilitated to develop extraordinary services like a button to turn on 50 cent internet access for one day. But for T-Mobile creating that emotional connection is quite a job. Many media channels are being discussed like their shops and the digital highway. One of their conclusions backed up by all CMO’s at the table: the digital channel lacks the ability to bring over experience. You really need shops for that or at least face to face interactions.

B2B versus B2C

Hearing all discussions I asked all delegates to reflect the story on our business. Software for small companies in a subscription model, completely acquired and provisioned online. With Exact Online being a true software as a service player where we act, live and think online we might tend to do too much online. Although it is not necessary since based on features and functions we accomplish annual growth rates of around 45%, we spend very much time and effort in bringing an experience in the interaction with our Exact brand. Business software and experience, doesn’t that sound a bit weird? Passion is emotion, and this you would like to share with your friends and family.Well, with small companies and entrepreneurs being active 24×7 most of them with passion about the things they sell its all about experience. Passion is emotion, and this you would like to share with your friends and family. The insight provided by Raymond about the digital channel missing the wow factor confirms my thoughts about offline and online. It needs to be in good balance. The success we have with our Exact Live event where thousands of people line up in a cue to click through our demo software is amazing to see.

Customer journey

If it was that simple than everybody would buy the best products and that is simply not the case.

Within Exact I think we are preparing ourselves for the next wave on different levels. From a product perspective we have major opportunities to add experience to the customer journey. With over 130.000 companies working with Exact Online we know quite some stuff about them, who they are, how they behave. If done in a proper way we can give new insights in return for exposing themselves to the users of our software. New insights that makes them smarter, nicer, better and more competitive. On a more emotional level I think we have a good foundation and some great ideas to bring this really to the prospects and customers themselves. I mean, most decisions are made not rationally but emotionally whether you are a consumer or a representative of a company. If it was that simple than everybody would buy the best products and that is simply not the case. So it’s all about emotions. So how will we bring this emotion into the Exact brand? How will we Spark the people that we serve? Hang on tight, we have some need things to come and this roundtable just confirmed the direction we are going into.


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