Bridging the Chasm – The Collaboration of Consumer & Business Marketing

Rare is the company that within has its consumer & business units working hand in hand to improve the bottom line of the company. Bundling across business units is one area which holds significant potential for those companies that can pull it off…

Competition is a healthy thing for companies; it’s thanks to competition that companies strive to innovate, to better their service offerings, to improve how they operate (across the board). It’s definitely a good thing for end users as well; with no competition, prices remain steep, product alternatives remain limited, service remains poor.

Competition within companies is also a healthy thing; thanks to competition between sales & marketing departments, as well as consumer & business units, companies are propelled forward in various ways. Ever struggling to get a larger budget and be recognized as the keystone of a company, departments and units strive to generate more revenues, operate more efficiently and innovate better than their counterparts in other areas of the company.

For the most part, this internal competition is healthy. Where it causes harm, however, is around collaboration – to a strong degree it kills it. Rare is the instance where sales and marketing departments work together inside a company in a fruitful and objective manner; even rarer is the instance where consumer and business units work together towards the greater good. We believe this internal competition is the key reason few (if any) companies have tapped into the benefits of consumer & business bundling, via collaboration between the consumer & business marketing units of companies.

What is consumer & business bundling? It’s a simple concept that can best be illustrated through a few examples:

Example 1 (Telecommunications): Such a bundle at a mobile operator that would target small businesses would consist of several consumer as well as several business prepaid or postpaid numbers, with a few handsets thrown in as an option. The business numbers would naturally be used by the owner and employees of the small business, the consumer numbers would be used by members of the owner’s or employees’ households. The incentive would be some type of discount or added benefit (rewarding the business owner for giving both his business and personal share-of-wallet to the operator).

Example #2 (Banking): Such a bundle at a bank would consist of a package of current accounts, business credit cards, and a line of credit for a large company, with all consumer products extended to the employees (and their family members) at a discounted rate or with added benefits (i.e. no annual fee on credit cards, lower interest rate on credit products, etc.).

Example #3 (Hotels, Airlines, Retailers): Such a bundle here would be in a simpler form, through the extending of corporate discount rates to the employees (and their family members) of business clients.

The potential this concept holds is significant for those companies that can tap into it. Through consumer & business bundling, companies can turn a handful of clients into thousands, tapping into a relatively easy to acquire pool of potential clients at a minimal cost – an illustration of this:

Bundling

The opposite direction can also be tried here; individuals identified in the consumer base as business owners / executives can be targeted for their business share-of-wallet as well. Bundles would not so much be needed here as would a strong pitch to lure the consumer to bring his or her business share-of-wallet over to the company.

No doubt there are several issues to be resolved here; how revenue should be credited (to business or consumer units), how the client should be serviced, how billing should be handled, etc.; these are all issues, however, that can be overcome and addressed. No single issue is large enough to be a roadblock to the launch of such benefit-generating bundles.

To get such an initiative up and running, we recommend companies follow the below four steps:

1. Hypothesizing & Preliminary Testing: The first step here is to brainstorm about the possible ways in which the company can capitalize on this concept, pushing business clients towards becoming consumer clients as well. The focus here is to not only identify what groups of products and services from the business and consumer side can be bundled together, but also how and with what benefit to the end users (there needs to be an incentive to make this concept work). The side that stands to gain most from this collaboration is the consumer business unit; as such, incentives need to be put forth by them, to benefit the end-user consumers that are being targeted.

Other details need to be hypothesized about here as well – how the bundle will be communicated / marketed, how the proposition will be sustainable vs. competitors, how the packaging will be priced / discounted / benefits applied, etc. The designed concepts should be tested before taking the next step, to identify if there will be demand. Focus groups can be used here as well as surveys with business clients, to understand if the planned bundles would be welcome and utilized.

2. Potential Analysis: Once possible bundles have been preliminarily designed, the next step is to estimate the potential they hold. This will require understanding existing penetration rates with potential clients (to understand the uplift in sales that can be realized – i.e. an estimated 85% of business clients’ employees do not have personal accounts), the expected response rate (to understand the acceptance of the offers – i.e. 5% of business clients believe their employee base will be interested in personal account-related offers), as well as the expected cost (of the benefit to lure consumers – i.e. 20% markdown on normal tariff rates).

With the above analysis conducted, a preliminary business case can be designed, allowing for a go / no-go decision to be made around specific bundles. Moreover, a prioritization can be made to determine which bundle to go-to-market with initially.

3. Operations Design: The first step towards the rollout of the chosen bundle will be to assign responsibilities around its detailed design (from pricing to process, FAQs to systems-related impact). As with the launch of any new campaign or product, there will a variety of tasks that need to be completed. Establishing a PMO to oversee the various streams around the effort is advised here. The other critical point is that both consumer and business units be heavily involved in the tasks, sharing the workload adequately. The natural lead around preparing the pitch and pitch planning will be the business sales and marketing teams, as it is the business clients that will be approached with the offer. The consumer marketing unit will have to take on the tasks around designing the bundle offer / benefits.

4. Piloting & Rollout: Once the bundles are ready to go and internal dry runs have been conducted, pilots should be conducted with a handful of business clients; tested here will be the scripts, collateral material, bundle content, bundle benefits, pricing points, processes, etc. Pilots should be conducted until no major kinks remain, until the effort of pitching and on-boarding is as smooth as with any traditional campaign. Also analyzed here should be the actual bottom-line impact of the bundles before going live (if negative ROI, then the bundles can be discarded). With the above actions taken and everything passing the test, full rollout can be conducted.

Once such bundles are launched, and success realized, companies can begin exploring making reserve pitches and bundles that drive consumers to bring their business share-of-wallet to the company as well. While this will be an effort of going from many (consumers) to fewer (businesses), it is nonetheless an unexplored additional way to acquire new business clients at a relatively minimal cost.

To learn more about designing and launching consumer & business bundles, please contact info@forteconsultancy.com.

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