President Marketing Business Development, Americas
Iksula Online Solutions
John Baross is a member of:
Importance of On line marketing
The answer varies by company depending on the business they are in, the markets they serve and the customers they target. That said, as more and more people increasingly consume information via high speed, device agnostic networks (wireless, cable, satellite), virtually all companies will benefit by having online marketing as an increasing part of their overall marketing plan. Business-to-consumer firms pioneered online marketing but now business-to-business and business-to-government firms are also very active. Each company must assess how best to acquire and retain customers and via what channels (online and offline). Each company must also understand trends and outlooks in their respective industries, competitive activity, and evolving infrastructure (i.e.: rapid consumer adoption of smartphones and tablets) and how 'conventional wisdom' and 'business-as-usual' paradigms are changing as a result of new technologies being adopted (and by what rate per target customer demographic).
Fundamentally, marketing to our company is about client acquisition. Marketing efforts are designed to drive awareness about our company and our solutions. Being a young, private firm we are in the process of building brand. Of course brand is also helped or harmed by performance once prospects become clients. Marketing efforts can leverage performance by conveying that expectation setting is consistently accurate with commitments being achieved - vital to any business seeking solution provider-partners to support aspects of their day to day efforts. Our "inform-educate-remind" approach also leverages our performance, including showcasing testimonials from delighted clients.
Continuing to build an emerging business that helps drive innovative, paradigm changing solutions for the betterment of clients and their end user/customers and society in general. In parallel, I strive to be a mentor to younger folks in the early stages of their career, as well as to colleagues and associates in any stage of their careers. With international experience in the Americas, Eastern and Western Europe, as well as East and South Asia, I also enjoy contributing to building bridges of understanding across the global community. Being concerned about the prolonged economic slump plaguing many parts of the world over the last half decade, in my opinion the under appreciated low-hanging-fruit within our grasp is to dial-up space exploration efforts. There is infinite opportunity to expand outward and if I can influence thinking and government policy making in this area, as well as related business expansion and companion employment and education, that would be a dream come true.
Two words related to 'improvement': impact and expertise. If both of these are climbing, then your personal growth is on the proper trajectory (keeping in mind that personal growth isn't necessarily the same as meeting goals and objectives in that one could be growing personally but still falling short of expectations and/or needs of the business). Each person then has to decide whether their positive growth is satisfactory in relation to both expectations their leadership, and possibly based on relative performance to peers - especially in companies facing cutback pressures.
Social media has emerged as a paradigm change agent in terms of how people access information. As increasing mobile device sophistication becomes ubiquitous, marketers leverage these platforms too. Depending on privacy laws per nation, companies can profile tastes, interests and buying habits of individuals then monitor and alert of opportunities that may be of interest to them. GPS further amplifies this experience via alerts when folks are in proximity of deals. Some eWallet and mWallet services also track reward program participation of individuals then bundle reward points with alerts. Apps even serve as a currency exchange across reward programs which fundamentally trumps the intention of each reward program. Marketers must realize that they are also competing with technology tech-apps which enable the above - which puts commoditization pressures on goods and services providers - a challenge to out maneuver fast, especially for brick & mortar stores used increasingly as showrooms.
Bureaucracy and corporate politics were first inhibitors that stifled innovative aspirations and personal growth but then they became the fuel to a personal, relentless quest to succeed. Rather then succumb or flea, the desire to overcome these obstacles was further fueled by candid direct feedback from customers, prospects and colleagues who vented their frustrations with stereotypical red-tape. They confided frustrations with slow moving 'big-corporate' (epitomized in Clayton Christianson's book: Innovator's Dilemma) and this helped inspire me to blaze a trail (at personal corporate career risk) and lead by example ... to find a way to navigate the countless challenges inside of big corporate by becoming the expert in understanding industry/market/client/prospect needs and pain points, as well as becoming expert in the solutions I championed from all functional perspectives (i.e.: from marketing to IT, customer care to legal, etc.). As the challenges grew, so too did my inner fire.
Role in an organization
Seeing around the corner before others do, connecting the dots between emerging opportunities, capabilities and marketplace needs, then evangelizing to help inform and persuade - from prospects to funding sources - that differentiated opportunities lie within grasp. Fundamentally I thrive in the earliest stages of the life cycle of innovation. In the past decade I headed one of two AT&T Labs Incubator initiatives to make it to market and scale. That role required expertise across functions because it's too early to have the luxury of funding to hire experts per business function. The role also encompasses developing the business development function and team. Crucial too is a personal trait of quiet confidence. Not only does this approach differentiate with prospects from stereotypical sales folks, but it's vital to sustaining long term support of leadership when marketplace traction and scaling often takes more time than hoped due to endless business-environment wild card issues.
Marketing is fundamentally about awareness driving, enticement and persuasion. Marketers increasingly face the challenge of advancing technologies and transparency that allows consumers to bypass traditional marketing to discover the best deals - at least based on pricing. As technology is increasingly jousting with marketing, marketers will face an increasing challenge to acquire new customers. In addition, marketers must also devise programs, offers, and other types or arrangements to create 'stickier' customers (to sustain retention performance) in the face on increasing commoditization pressures that result from discovery of better priced alternatives (that could often be anywhere globally). From creative bundles to rewarding customer longevity, in an extreme view, the marketing function could become antiquated by technology - unless marketers devise way to leverage and exploit technologies to their advantage.
Suggestions to aspirants
Follow your passion. Be open minded and aware of evolving business environmental conditions. Marketing 10 years from now may be completely unrecognizable from what we view as marketing today. That may be a turn off for some while for others, they may become more committed to following their dream into marketing and enjoying the evolutionary journey. Also realize that as you grow in experience and insights, your aspirations may change. Each person must make the ongoing decision that is best for them based on evolving conditions.
Ongoing two-way communications with the sales force is vital to understand challenges they are facing. Depending on how a company organizes and defines its marketing head's responsibilities, this person and his/her team could join sales teams on customer visits to bolster sales efforts; he/she could dial up marketing efforts from PR to promotions (discounts, bundles, etc.); plus he/she could arrange to reinforce training - in the aggregate or on an as-needed individual basis. If the marketing head also has sales responsibilities, joint visits with sales personnel help the marketing head learn where coaching may be needed to strengthen the abilities of each sales person.
Good marketing primes-the-pump for effective selling. Marketing is basically about the "4 P's" (product, price, place, promotion), while selling is about closing the deal. The specific answer will vary by product or service, as well as by the size and maturity of a company. There are countless permutations of how companies organize and support marketing and selling so while there are core definitions for marketing vs. selling, in practice where the rubber meets the road, not only will the answer vary but over time, keep the door open to adjustments as environmental factors evolve.
US-based/American, citizen of the world, I enjoy being a catalyst leader of innovation via strategic, product & business development. Negotiate break-through deals that validate marketplace interest and help secure investment funding, I also plan and execute the launch and scaling of innovative eCommerce and mCommerce B2B2C and O2O solutions that have resulted in 10-30% increases in incremental revenues for online retailers (F500 to start-ups that offer all forms of premium digital assets as well as physical goods). Adept at envisioning and building differentiated ecosystem solutions (both organically developed, as well as by seeing and negotiating strategic alliances and partnerships) to position optimally for competitive wins. Over my 33 year career (24 with AT&T/AT&T Labs), I have had the privilege of being a speaker at eCommerce, digital media, online retail and telecom industry events in the Americas, Eastern & Western Europe, East and South Asia. Visit me at www.johnfbarossjr.co
Recommended Courses and Certification
I am not aware of any certifications that are critical for success. While I personally earned a bachelors of science degree in marketing as a collegiate, I had colleagues in marketing who came from different walks of life (i.e.: teaching, professional baseball, purchasing, IT, etc.) who were all successful in marketing duties. One way to look at marketing is that we all are consumers thus on the receiving end of countless marketing efforts daily. That gives all of us a degree of expertise - at least those paying attention.
Importance of Marketing
In my view, marketing personnel (as well as all personnel) have ongoing roles on two parallel tracks to help their company's marketing efforts -for the benefit of customers, investors and employees. The more obvious role is for those organizationally in marketing. Duties vary under the broad definition of 'marketing' but typically can encompass aspects of marketing planning on the PR, advertising, social media front, as well as sales and business development. The company I represent is a 5 year old Mumbai-based firm offering end-to-end eCommerce solutions for online retailers. Critical marketing strategy and tactics entail awareness driving (i.e.: online, industry events, networking, partnering, etc.), devising outreach campaigns, offers and promotions, along with watching for successful marketing efforts in any other industry that could be adopted and incorporated into our efforts. The second track applies to all employees. Every day we are ambassadors for the company we represent.
Positioning the product
Product positioning is about awareness driving with compelling messaging that conveys insight and understanding of prospect companies in the industry we serve. To help the positioning efforts resonate with target prospects our introductions share that we are led by proven industry veterans from marquee ecommerce giants including the likes of eBay, at&t and others. Next we walk-the-talk by sharing names and links of companies we support, with customized information about other online retailers we support in the same sector as each target prospect (i.e.: apparel vs. jewelry vs. furniture vs. mass market vs. other specific domains) to convey our experience and expertise. In parallel we work with a variety of tradeshows and industry events seeking speaking opportunities where we can share insights and perspectives with audiences to build reputation. Fundamentally we position ourselves as having best-in-class expertise with superior processes and differentiated delivery at competitive fees.