Having spent time in both B2B and B2C marketing, Kay Fernandez has a wide range of industry experience under her belt. As the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Konica Minolta, she uses her expertise in communications, digital transformation, data science, and more to lead the U.S. marketing function.
When working for a multibillion-dollar organization like Konica Minolta, Kay deals with a prevalent problem among marketing leaders: juggling marketing priorities with organizational goals, product innovation, sales enablement and more.
Kay Fernandez talks to us about communicating and aligning with the sales team, executing strategic partnerships, mapping the customer journey, and using data to drive sales activities and outreach.
What did you bring from your B2C experience when returning to B2B at Konica Minolta?
B2B has changed so much in the last six years since I have been at Konica Minolta. The way we talk to customers is very different. In the past it was a lot of technical jargon and acronyms. While you still need to be on top of all that, what B2C brings to the table is a more casual, conversational tone. It’s easy to forget your audience doesn’t know as much about your products as you do.
Early on when I moved into this role, we redesigned our entire website, with a focus on how we were speaking to our audience and to our prospective customers. We changed our tone and approach from pontificating on technology to trying to be more relatable, providing real use cases with examples of how technology has helped with various business challenges.
This effort to “conversationalize” our voice went beyond our website. It extended across trade shows, PR, social media, sales efforts, and more. A key strategy in both B2B and B2C marketing is through an omni-channel approach. Amplifying a consistent brand message or thought leadership platform through all different marketing tactics is important for us to extend and reach our audience wherever they may be consuming content.
Were there any key takeaways from the extensive process of communicating with that team?
Konica Minolta is a $10 billion organization with 44,000 employees, so the global marketing strategy is something that we continually need alignment on. There are so many different pieces to our product portfolio and solutions, and there are simultaneously many areas of the business that are always tugging at marketing, so we adjust and re-prioritize.
Recently we created an umbrella brand strategy under a workplace of the future platform that represents our technology and has resonated with our audiences. This initiative aims to further the digitization of work and redesign how organizations approach work. It starts with how people work, and the fact that there are multi-generational employees with different motivations, values, and work styles.
It also looks at being able to facilitate mobility, and some of the behavioral changes in the workforce stemming from the fact that work has extended beyond the standard nine to five with people’s ability to access information anywhere. It was about understanding current workforce technology trends and how our portfolio of products and solutions can address them. We needed a strong brand strategy that could bring all that together and a messaging platform that positioned us as thought leaders in the space.
How do you partner with workplace technology brands to move thought leadership forward in the marketplace?
Our approach to research and development (R&D) is based on two organizations within the company that are driven by customer centric innovation. The first are our Business Innovation Centers (BIC) of which there are five worldwide. Their charter is to work with academic institutions, research institutes, partner companies and startups, to find technology that is complementary to our business, or that could further our product portfolio. The BIC in the U.S. is located in Silicon Valley and focuses on identifying new technologies for the workplace of the future, enterprise, healthcare, robotics and connected intelligence.
We have various partners within each of these key focus areas where we have strategic investments in their business or have a deep partnership. The BICs are an excellent resource to identify emerging and innovative technology for us to continue to grow our product portfolio.
Konica Minolta R&D facilities perform separate functions to advance existing technology. We have an R&D unit focused on core technologies that include business solutions, production print, optical devices, sensing, healthcare and industrial inkjet. Their mission is to improve existing products and bring to market new products in each of these areas. A second R&D organization is focused on furthering workplace automation through artificial intelligence, intelligent office services, and other future of work type solutions. With the recent launch of our new edge-computing platform called the Workplace Hub, Konica Minolta aims to transform how businesses approach the ecosystem of work.
Through extensive research based on how organizations operate across three core dimensions: People, Spaces and Practices, we study how organizations display people-centric, connected and dynamic attributes. As technology changes the modern workplace, we’re working on more humanistic approaches to work utilizing regular, automatic movements to eventually help advance technology. We’re very excited about this new focus area and bringing more advanced technology to build out our Workplace Hub portfolio extensions.
How does marketing fit into product innovation?
We are extremely focused on the customer experience as a key driver for product innovation. Being recognized with the Brand Key’s Customer Loyalty award for the past 11 years, is a tribute to the extensive amount of time and resources we devote to ensuring not only that our customers are happy but taking those customer insights to leverage for product development. This entails more than just customer satisfaction NPS or transactional survey efforts, but requires a deep understanding of how users interact with our products and with our company. A few years back we initiated a strategic initiative where we developed a customer journey map to help us identify every customer touch point, which would then measure how easy it was for customers to transact business with us. We conducted extensive internal and customer interviews to develop two journey maps, one for our direct customers and another to map our relationship with our resellers.
During this process we mapped every touchpoint where the customer is interacting with Konica Minolta. This includes everything from the initial pre-sales research and discovery stage all the way through account implementation, and eventually customer experience post-purchase. The customer journey map became a blueprint to help us identify the key areas that needed process changes, and areas that we could easily impact as an organization through proactive communication or by changing the customer experience.
One of the most significant outputs of this customer journey map was the mobile app we developed for our customers. It’s the first and only in our industry and it connects to our customer portal. The analytics on our portal help customers understand how much volume they are producing, enable them to order more supplies, and provides intuitive fleet management across hundreds of MFP devices.
The mobile app also features location-based access and an easy and intuitive user experience. Users can scan a barcode, which accesses our backend system, and the individual device data becomes available right on their mobile phone. Ultimately, the customer journey map helped us recognize that we had a number of customer touch points that could be consolidated by providing mobile, self-service functionality. It continues to help us improve the overall customer journey to enhance the customer’s user experience and improve customer loyalty
What did you learn from journey mapping in regards to your sales process?
The customer journey definitely starts online. Since as much as 60% of the buying decision is determined before the buyer even initiates contact with a sales representative, it’s crucial we continually analyze and evolve our digital strategies. Much of our marketing strategy is designed to support our sales efforts, so our marketing campaigns are focused on driving leads to our website, which we track regularly. One of our key metrics is lead conversion, getting contacts to complete our web forms, then assessing the contact’s behavioral and demographics data so we can determine their area of interest.
We then put them in vertical-based nurture tracks, and since our CRM is integrated with Marketo, the sales rep automatically gets the lead so they can follow up immediately if appropriate. If the contact isn’t ready to buy, then we continue to nurture them with thought leadership and information on how our products can solve their business challenges.
How can marketing better enable the sales team?
Marketing and sales alignment across a thousand-person national sales organization is extremely difficult. We are transforming our approach to selling through a more services-led strategy and when you couple that with learning our extensive technology and solutions portfolio, sales has a really hard job. Our role as a marketing engine is to educate and engage our customers so we ultimately help shorten the sales cycle and increase sales productivity. Ensuring that sales is on the same page regarding campaign messaging and delivery is a challenge. And, ensuring marketing is aligned with sales objectives so that we are communicating to the right buyer is crucial.
Our sales enablement strategy starts with generating marketing qualified leads to shorten the sales cycle and increase sales productivity. Our ability to target the right buyer (research has estimated there are five or more influencers in every B2B buying decision) and convert leads, to provide relevant insight for sales to progress the buying cycle, is a priority.
To improve sales enablement, we’re taking a data science approach to identifying target prospects for our sales representatives. We’re taking a look at our existing customer data and digging into their buying behavior to shape and prioritize prospecting. We’re also utilizing AI and data mining against demographics and firmographics information to come up with a set of key customer characteristics to help sales rank prospects by potential. This helps our sales team manage their activities and their approach with different customers.
Have there been any surprises or wins that have resulted from this being built out as we speak?
We’ve been in a pilot phase for the past six months and testing it in our eastern and central regions. We looked at approximately 50 territories and analyzed all the customer data – which also helped us dedupe our CRM records and get more focused and accurate information in the CRM to help our sales reps. We’re six months in and Wrolling it out nationwide shortly.
It’s a heavy lift on the marketing side, looking at all the data and working with IT to dedupe, then working with sales to get them to understand the process. It’s a cross-functional, cross-departmental initiative, and our sales leadership is excited at the potential. Current pipeline activity shows promise with a number of new accounts.
Again, sales leadership is so crucial in driving focus for sales. If there is a new process that we are trying to implement, getting their alignment is vital for creating the necessary visibility and momentum for execution.
How do you balance marketing between your two channels of distribution?
Our reseller channel is critically important to our corporate business strategy. We offer various programs that help our partners in a number of different areas to develop their business. For example, talent development is important as we look to grow and move into different market segments. Konica Minolta offers programs that provide sales training for our partners to move into value-based selling. We’re trying to help them with website optimization, marketing strategy, and campaign development. We’re enabling them to focus on how the customer is buying, rather than the traditional model of cold calling and prospecting.
From a hardware perspective our channel generates approximately 50 percent of the revenue and our direct channel is only larger through the service revenue they generate.
We want to transform our dealer partners and move them along the same path where we’re going. As a manufacturer, we see it as our responsibility to help our partners grow their business.