For years, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have conceived, designed, and produced innovative products, showcasing them through individual marketing campaigns and industry events to drive sales and growth. In order to sustain success in today’s changing market, OEMs should consider transitioning into a living business.
Industrial customers are becoming more like everyday consumers in terms of not only wanting products and services, but relevant, digitally-enabled experiences—a growing trend called Industrial Consumerism. Such experiences are becoming critical drivers of sales, and as a result, OEMs will need to re-orient their organization to continually engage with, adapt to, and satisfy customers’ evolving needs or risk losing potential revenue.
This customer fluid relationship reflects the essence of a living business that provides relevance throughout the lifecycle of the products, services, and experiences sold. The company’s marketing organization leads this new way of doing business, and in the era of the customer experience, marketing has become as essential to growth as any innovation generated from the shop floor. Accenture has found OEMs that provide ongoing, relevant engagements that customers now expect are three times more likely to achieve above-average revenue and profit growth.
For example, one major farm equipment manufacturer recognized that its customers wanted both high-quality equipment and their farms to be more productive. To help them achieve this goal, the manufacturer partnered with both weather and telecommunications companies to provide accurate forecasts and equipment sensors in order to optimize irrigation schedules. The manufacturer’s marketers helped make this happen by building a strong relationship with the customer to gain a deeper understanding of their needs.
Shifting industrial marketing to this new role, however, will not happen overnight. Several structural, mindset, and capability changes will need to take place first.
There are four fundamental actions OEMs can take to make the transition:
1. Rethink marketing and focus on needed skill sets that enable the organization to capture additional and more robust sales revenue. This includes accommodating growing demand for personalized content, video, chatbots, and online/mobile features. Accenture research shows that 74% of industrial buyers research at least half their purchases online.
2. Place customers at the center of the company’s thinking. This will mean ensuring that the marketing organization makes customer-centricity a priority and aligns the customer experience across all channels and touchpoints. According to Accenture research, 95% of cross-industry leaders are committed to having a continuous dialogue with customers, starting with the pre-sales phase of the customer lifecycle.
3. Prepare the company for a high-growth future. 78% of OEM chief marketing officers (CMOs) feel prepared to meet their performance goals in three years’ time, but this may be too optimistic. They will first need help redefining their role. And this will include creating new roles within the organization designed to deliver exceptional customer experiences. Among the most in demand will be insight providers, artificial intelligence (AI) designers, trust leaders, and immersive experience designers. Establishing partnerships with outside experts will also be needed to help ensure the company has the right capabilities to deliver new, differentiating experiences.
4. Invest in technologies that will enable a personalized, frictionless customer experience. CMOs generally agree that AI and robotic automation will help ensure marketing success in the future. 70% believe that these technologies will improve the performance of marketing operations, and 69% feel they will fundamentally impact the way their companies will interact with customers.
Re-invent the future
The era of the customer experience is redefining growth opportunities in the industrial equipment market. To thrive in this new business environment, OEMs will need to consider transforming their organization into a living business that can constantly satisfy the needs of industrial customers. And as part of the process, marketing will need to be re-invented as a more powerful resource for growth.
>>Brian R. May, brian.r.may@accenture, is managing director, Industrial North America, Accenture. Bernd Hirschle, email@example.com, is managing director, global lead—customer insight & growth practice, Industrial Equipment, Accenture