From brand names and slogans that have comical meanings when translated into different languages to product designs that don’t match the habits and preferences of consumers in a new market, there are many stories about marketing blunders by business-to-consumer organizations trying to expand into new global geographies. But understanding the nuances of regional markets is equally important in the b-to-b world.
At Summit Europe in London this week, Meta Karagianni and Christina McKeon focused on the importance of regional portfolio marketing for global b-to-b companies, as well as requirements for implementing an effective regional approach.
“In our ongoing conversations with b-to-b marketers across Europe, we often see go-to-market strategy and planning that happens at the headquarters level failing to reflect regional needs,” Meta told the Summit audience. “This negatively impacts downstream activities like messaging, campaigns, sales enablement and ultimately business performance. And this gap is often caused by the fact that a portfolio marketing capability does not exist in the regions, or if does exist, its scope and focus are not clearly defined.”
In the b-to-b marketing ecosystem, portfolio marketing – which may include any combination of product marketing, solution marketing, industry marketing and services marketing – is an organization’s go-to-market function. It refines the marketing strategy created by the CMO based on an understanding of target markets and buyers, and it delivers value propositions, messaging and go-to-market strategies that are used by other functions including campaign teams, demand centers and field marketers.
During their talk at Summit, Christina and Meta explained how an organization’s regional and centralized portfolio marketing capabilities should coexist and complement each other across five core disciplines of the portfolio marketing function. After defining these five core disciplines, they shared with Summit attendees the right approach to sequencing disciplines and focusing the activities of a regional function in order to yield the maximum impact in region. In this way, local go-to-market approach can reflect local market situation and dynamics while still fitting into the organization’s overall go-to-market strategy. From a regional perspective, Meta and Christina proposed the following sequencing of the five core disciplines:
In addition to outlining the responsibilities of regional portfolio marketing teams, Meta and Christina also discussed several operational requirements for success, including best practices for regional portfolio marketing to collaborate with other teams, and ideas for finding regional portfolio marketing talent.
“We advise marketing organizations to initiate a CMO-level discussion on the effectiveness of their current regional go-to-market approaches,” concluded Christina. “They should assess their readiness to deploy effective regional portfolio marketing, including any gaps in key processes and skills that need to be prioritized.”