Data drives all of marketing today. But how can marketers and companies use it optimally to plan their B2B marketing efforts? Paroma Sen, the Innovation and Industry Marketing Lead at SAP India  shares her views in this podcast episode.

Key Takeaways from the episode:

  1. Demand is like energy, you cannot create it from zero from nothingness you can only convert it from one form to the other, like you can convert potential energy into kinetic energy if you remember you know  high school physics. Demand today exists in the world in the form of customer pain points and when we take that, harness it, articulate it and contextualize it, then we can work those pain points into demand.
  2. But marketing is ultimately any form of marketing going back to basics, it’s about putting your message where the customer eyeballs are and data helps us fine tune that approach, data tells us where to go where to make best use of our budget to put our message where.
  3. Having intent data, being able to tell what the context and the behavior of a person is…with respect to a certain product or service that you’re trying to put out there. Which is great. I mean that’s the gold mine right. That’s what we all want, we all love. But the other side of that now is GDPR, where the lines are being drawn, where we are seeing consent and privacy being a priority.

Here’s the complete transcription:

Host: (0:06) Hi Paroma, welcome to the DemandMatrix podcast series titled Sunny Side Up. We’re so happy to have you here today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself.

Speaker: (0:23) Sure Paroma, and its a funny coincidence that we are both called Paroma Sen. But yeah. Thanks for having me here. Happy to be able to speak to your audience through this opportunity. Telling you a little bit about myself. My name is Paroma Sen. I lead Innovation and Industries Marketing at SAP in India. I’ve been in this role for about two years now. And yeah my primary responsibilities are around demand generation. We are responsible for pipeline generation so sales can take it forward, which ultimately leads to revenue.

Host: (1:00) Great! So what led you to this current position at SAP India. Can you tell us a little bit about your past experiences. Have you always been in a similar field.

Speaker: (1:08) Anything but that! My background actually was in engineering and so I did my Masters in Computer Engineering and by the time I realized that if I had to do a job writing code from 9 to 5, I might as well put a bullet in my head. So then I went ahead and did a masters in advertising and then I thought hey I have a degree in advertising, a degree in engineering. What the hell do I do from a shop front. Thankfully marketing found me or rather I found marketing and I started working in technology marketing. I’ve worked in semiconductor companies selling chips. After that I came back to India in 2013. And I worked in NDTV heading marketing and content for one of their verticals called NDTV ethnic. And then I came to SAP here. This is my first time working for an “I.T” kind of a company. I’ve always been in technology but this is the first time in information technology. And it’s been a fun journey learning everything.

Host: (2:14) So I’m going to ask you a trick question next. What did you like more, your role at NDTV or what you do at SAP?

Speaker: (2:21) Oh I love what I do at SAP, I think B2B marketing has so much depth to it. B2C was fun. That’s what I did at NDTV and I really honed my digital marketing skills there. But when it comes to strategy and really big deals, a big difference to the world, that would be B2B in a large company like this, I love it here. Yeah.

Host: (2:42) Great! So do you want to elaborate on the problem that your company or your department solves?

Speaker: (2:46) Sure, so SAP has been around for all of what 45 years now. We help companies, businesses, governments run better. We are on the side of things that runs operational efficiencies. And so on, so forth…we say that when our customers run better that’s when we feel that we’ve done our job. That’s our purpose in the world. In terms of what the core problem is that we solve here, we are looking now at making enterprises intelligent. Right. So the world is sitting on tons and tons of data. An intelligent enterprise is one that makes use of that data to generate insights. So what would they be able to do with those insights? They would be able to do more with less resources. They’ll be able to empower their employees. They’ll be able to give a best-in-class experience to their customers and they will be able to be future-proof by creating new revenue streams, new business models and so on. So that’s where we were. That’s the value we give the world.

Host: (3:45) You’ve been pretty heavily involved with demand generation activities, do you want to share some thoughts about that?

Speaker: (3:51) Sure Paroma, So you know,  Demand Generation, we use the word demand creation demand generation. But I always think that demand is like energy, you cannot create it from zero from nothingness you can only convert it from one form to the other, like you can convert potential energy into kinetic energy if you remember you know  high school physics. Demand today exists in the world in the form of customer pain points and when we take that, harness it, articulate it and contextualize it, then we can work those pain points into demand. Right. That’s the way I think about demand generation from a B2B perspective. What becomes critical then is the value proposition and how you message the story. Because unless that is there you’re constantly creating and reaching the same leads.

Host: (4:39) Right. So in this entire digital marketing spectrum and social selling space which are again functions you’ve been part of. How have you seen it evolve over the past couple of years. Also given this martech boom and of course love for data that you mentioned, everything’s data driven and we are sitting on a pile of data. 

Speaker: (4:58) I remember when I was in University pursuing Advertising- At that point we used to talk about the world of digital being pop ups and banners and very very in your face advertising. Today its much more sophisticated, we have search engine marketing, we have content syndication. We have optimization techniques of websites. And then we have social selling. So I happen to be a gold level social selling trainer. But marketing is ultimately any form of marketing going back to basics, it’s about putting your message where the customer eyeballs are and data helps us fine tune that approach, data tells us where to go where to make best use of our budget to put our message where. Where that audience of one is, I’d use the term audience of one very, very closely because ultimately every individual in the world wants a very very personalized, relevant, contextualized message which makes him or her an audience of one. The data is out there which allows us to give that very very unique experience.

Host: (6:03) So I will dig little bit deeper here, how effective do you think intent data is in all of this and in B2B marketing specifically.

Speaker: (6:09) Intent data, again there are two sides to this right. So obviously from a marketer’s point of view this is awesome. Having intent data, being able to tell what the context and the behavior of a person is…with respect to a certain product or service that you’re trying to put out there. Which is great. I mean that’s the gold mine right. That’s what we all want, we all love. But the other side of that now is GDPR, where the lines are being drawn, where we are seeing consent and privacy being a priority. And if we have a perfect way to reach out to a person but that person says hey I don’t want to be contacted by you then that falls flat. So I think that itself is evolving as well and will continue to evolve. I don’t think we’ve hit the answer by any means. We are prioritizing privacy as a community today. But there has to be a balance in there. Right. Where I mean at what point do you say that technology I want to use it for convenience and therefore if I’m in the market to buy a bed, I want to see ads for a bed. And there I will compromise on my privacy to be reached. So that balance – we are still reaching… it’s an evolving road. And I think intent data is important here. There will be changes down the road because of GDPR. But it’s certainly evolving and we are not at the motherload yet.

Host: (7:21) A lot of B2B marketers run data driven campaigns, they rely on data and  you know it’s a data driven environment today but it’s also a very Account-based Marketing inspired environment I think. Half of the B2B segment seems to support the idea of Account- based Marketing. How would you tell people to align their digital marketing and ABM efforts.

Speaker: (7:42) Great great question! ABM (Account-based marketing) is usually obviously done for the larger accounts and when you have a large account, you require a lot of depth of marketing rather than breadth. You have to think about all the levels of stakeholders in that particular organization that needs to be influenced. So I would go about thinking through an ABM strategy is how to position oneself from a thought leadership perspective and it connects toward you mentioned earlier about social selling.Right So. Rather than doing product pitches…position yourself whether you’re a salesperson or a marketing person. You’re an individual and you’re positioning yourself as a person with some expertise who can provide a customer an idea, thought about something a leadership position. So it’s very important for people who are selling to create their own social brand and to engage socially with their customer base. And build that equity in oneself. So ABM rather than  a generic one size fits all approach has to be very very specific and that thought leadership has to be an integral part of the strategy getting to that market.

Host: (8:49)  Right, So yes we all know how content and personalized content and data play a heavy role in ABM efforts. So where do you see (I think I’m sure you guys use content as a core marketing strategy SAP as well.) Right. So where do you see this changing and how do you see this changing in the next couple of years. There are changes in consumption patterns as well. So how would you tell people to align all of this together.

Speaker: (9:15) So absolutely, content consumption is changing by the day, by the second in some cases. Right. Artificial intelligence, brand intelligence we’re using a lot of these techniques to understand more on what is happening and how we make our investments more measurable. For example even in India, today people are still so heavily spending their marketing money on television which has least measurability among many many other mediums. But here people still invest in TV. So there are ways of using image recognition to see how much your logo is visible in a certain campaign and for how long it has been visible and how does that compare with competitors. So there’s a lot of that crossover happening. Another example- IoT and I talked about data. I hear IoT a shit load (excuse my language!). It will give another spin to intent data. For example if my fridge tells a marketing organization that the milk is running out or if my pollution meter is telling somebody that the pollution is high, would I want to be contacted for replenishment of milk or for air purifier, maybe yes. So, again…yeah there’s a lot happening with the data, with how data is being generated and consumed, all of that is changing and involving. We don’t know where it’s going but. The journey is ON.

Host: (10:41) Everything is a lot of more convenient for the end user.They just have to do less of everything to get more of everything. Its an interesting journey and following all of this digital marketing,content marketing,ABM as well.As a marketer who is planning a strategy what would you put most emphasis on, especially when it comes to B2B lead generation.

Speaker: (11:03) So yes. So it depends on which market segment we’re going after. what is our (Targeting) base. You’re right. No market is complete, your marketing strategy cannot even start without the First basic market segmentation. If I have to segment my customer base by size of customer, there’s a very simplistic way of doing it. Largest customer and midsize customers and smaller customers obviously, you’ll have a pyramid shape there with the largest customers fewest in number would be on top, for them I would do more Account-based marketing, more in-depth reaching out to as many stakeholders as possible then by the time I get to the bottom of the pyramid there are hundreds and thousands of customers at the bottom. Maybe tens and hundreds of thousands of customers as well. I would have a much more digital presence there because they are the ones looking for information. They’re the ones hungry out there looking for information. They don’t have sales and accounting  teams knocking at their door with  full fledged plans, but they’re looking at using the right keywords. Being able to pull in their search search is to our benefit. That would be the core of the strategy. Right.

Host: (12:04) So I think you’ve shared some pretty interesting insights and I thank you for spending this time with us today. Are there any other key takeaways you’d like to share with our audience?

Speaker: (12:12) Sure. I think if I had to take a step back, why is it that all of us do what we do in marketing. I think I was attracted to marketing. Given my background because it is the one field I see which is such a beautiful blend of art and science. I mean we use data so much, that’s the science part of it. But then there comes the art part of it where you have to create a unique, delightful experience for a customer, for an audience of one. And that beautiful balance is why I do marketing right. People are afraid of artificial intelligence coming and taking away their jobs. Through my career I’ve seen that I have evolved from every job I’ve never held two jobs that have been similar. And there’s been constant learning. I mean I personally see one of my biggest flaws in me is that I get bored very very easily. It’s my job and my work that keep me mentally stimulated, active and striving to learn. That learning, that constant upskilling, that constant desire, that hunger for knowledge is what will keep an individual out there from losing their job or from losing their job to an AI or bots. So that’s my takeaway for myself, for everyone out there. Learn, keep yourself on the edge  because that spot will make sure that you stay unique as someone who will continue to deliver value for an organization.

Host:   That’s great that’s a wonderful a piece of advice! Thank you so much Paroma for spending this time with us and I look forward to speaking with you again!

Paroma Sen is the innovation & Industry Marketing Lead at SAP India. As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP (NYSE: SAP) helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable more than 404,000 business and public-sector customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably.

About the podcast

Sunny Side Up is a series of 15-minute podcasts. Leaders and innovators share what they’ve learned in the B2B tech sector on topics related to marketing, product management, sales, and leadership.

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