Through the looking glass: Move over FMCG- B2B (Manufacturing) Marketing
FMCG is the holy-grail for marketing students with most of them clamoring for a sales stint followed by a cushy branding job in the FMCG sector. After all the FMCG space is exciting, stable and growing. Needless to say a sales stint in the FMCG sector really fosters entrepreneurial skills as you are literally managing a territory and are accountable for the numbers it contributes to the top-line. While there have always been takers for the FMCG space and of late there is a buzz in the B2B (IT) and E –commerce sector, business development verticals in B2B manufacturing companies have never really garnered that kind of interest, much less sustained it.
With an experience of close to three years in B2B manufacturing, I will attempt to dislodge and dispel certain myths about the industry and also give the readers an insight into what working in this space really is all about.
B2B Manufacturing: As a Business Development Executive
I started my stint with the C Tech Corporation – a Mumbai-based company that makes specialty chemicals. I joined as part of the Technical Marketing Services Group for a range of non-toxic and non-hazardous pest protection aversives used for underground wires and cables and plastic pipelines ‘Rodrepel®™’, ‘Termirepel®™’ and ‘Combirepel®™’. As a Business Development Executive, I was primarily involved in assisting the Technical Marketing Manager on key account engagements as a supporting personnel and I was separately assigned the responsibility of coming up with a market communications campaign/package for the three products. This involved targeting key conferences, trade shows and industry magazines which would serve as a forum to reach out to existing customers and basically enhance the industry interface with our products.
I started by targeting the wire and cable industry which was the biggest downstream industry that we served. I began by engaging with Applied Market Information LLC, a leading UK based consultancy for the Plastics and Polymeric sector and familiarized them with the products which had been developed, targeting this particular industry predominantly. I got the opportunity to write abstracts for two of their leading conferences – Cables 2011, Germany – the oldest and the biggest forum for the wire and cable industry and the Polymers in Cables 2011, Florida, USA a forum dedicated only for polymers/additives used in Cables and targeting the larger US cable industry.
Management Center Europe, Brussels, Belgium
As a Technical Marketing Manager
Almost close to a year later I was elevated to head the Technical Marketing Group – Pest Protection Aversives
As a Technical Marketing Manager, the breadth and depth of my responsibilities increased. In the year that followed I diversified the print communications portfolio to cover not just wire and cable but the Plastics industry at large as also the agricultural films sector and my list of publications include Compounding World and Film and Sheet Extrusion , leading magazines by the AMI LLC publications (part of the AMI LLC consultancy), Wire and cable Technology international, Plastics Today, EuroWire, Wire and Cable Asia, Eurasian Chemmarket and Plastics and Coatings International
Development of Co-branded Products
As a Technical Marketing Manager, I had the opportunity to undertake the development of co-branded products with PolyOne Corporation. Co-branding for us was a unique business liaison whereby C Tech could sell its products under the Made in India- manufactured by C Tech Corporation tag while developing new customers with PolyOne Corporation thereby enhancing their offerings to their key accounts and customers and reinforcing their position as the world’s leading solutions/products provider for the polymer industry. Thus it was a win-win for both entities.
As part of this massive relationship building exercise undertaken with the PolyOne Corporation, I had to opportunity to help build cross functional technical teams at PolyOne China (Guangzhou, China) and PolyOne Europe (Brussels, Belgium) which involved extensive knowledge transfer sessions in China and Belgium and several follow up sessions via video conferencing, outlining key accounts which could be targeted for undertaking product developments, possible joint customer visits, joint marketing efforts and so on.
Business to Government: Another unique challenge
The other independent assignment at that time on the domestic front was to assist the Telecom Engineering Center (TEC) frame specifications that would replace imported technology with indigenously produced pest protection alternatives. This was extremely challenging at that time – BSNL which was the largest entity adopting TEC specifications was using Polyamide 12- a nylon based alternative which was roughly around 10-12 times more expensive as compared to the alternative we were proposing. The assignment was arduous and a learning experience for me as it involved engaging with everyone across the supply chain right from the umbrella organization of specifications – the TEC, the cable manufacturers who would be our direct customers to the consumer/end user which were entities like the BSNL, RAILTEL and so on. In addition, we also had to contend with our direct competitors – leading MNCs and manufacturers of PA12. This was an experience which provided me with an opportunity to deal with large, conservative and change-averse governmental entities whose activities and decisions directly have an impact on people like us. I also got a chance to see the dynamics of the private sector which supplies to these entities and has its own systems of quality control and compliance and purchasing procedures which as direct suppliers and vendors we have to constantly modify, improve upon and negotiate.
In a nutshell…
These are some of my experiences in a nutshell in the close to three years that I worked with C Tech. My basket of experiences is rich, diverse straddling relationship building exercises across varied geographies and cultures like China, Europe and USA; back home understanding how Business to Government really works and more specifically how to constantly reinforce and energize a brand in the manufacturing industry with a mix of strong technical knowledge and a customer specific product development approach.
Sonal is a Chemical Engineer from ICT Mumbai currently in her 1st year at SPJIMR. She has worked for C Tech Corporation, a specialty chemicals company. Travelling and writing short stories & human interest articles interest her. She has served as the editor for ICT’s non-technical magazine.
This is the 3rd story from Sonal. Follow her on sonalsapale.insideiim.com