All pull together
New research from Omobono shows where businesses can better integrate to market themselves through their own people.
B usiness-to-business digital marketing firm Omobono, which opened its Dubai office in February, last month released the 2017 edition of its What Works Where report, which looks at the state of B2B digital in the UAE.
Omobono has produced the report for seven years, initially only in the UK, but now covering the USA, Canada, Europe, India and China. This is the first time the firm has published research on the UAE.
Hadley Newman, managing director of Omobono Middle East, says the research is a good piece of thought leadership to herald the company’s arrival. “From a local point of view, coming into this market, I think it’s really useful for positioning,” he says. “It sets us apart and really puts our stake in the ground on what we do and the depth at which we do it.”
The research turned up three main opportunities for driving business using B2B digital marketing: thought leadership, the people within a company, and integration between departments within the organisation.
“Digital is always a subset of business,” says Fran Brosen, the company’s chairwoman and co-founder, who was in Dubai for the launch of the research. “The challenges you face in digital are exactly the same as you face in your business in any way. We’ve said specifically about thought leadership that you clearly need to be an expert in something, but digital gives you a way to share that so that people can find you and see your expertise.
“There’s an opportunity to do that well that digital enhances, because it can get to people who are searching for very specific things.”
Internal talent and HR represent the second opportunity for improving business, says Brosen. “People are critical in business and digital does help you to talk to them within the company, but also to give them information to share online. And they do so in spades.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge, though, is working with other departments. “It’s a challenge across business,” she says. “In order to do something successfully in business, so often you have to work with teams from other
departments, and that’s about building relationships. Digital is exactly the same. Everyone’s communicating with digital; you have to make sure that, in order to do it really well as far as the customer is concerned, you have to bring people together. People slightly forget that.”
These three problem areas are not unique to the region, but Brosen says there is less thought leadership circulated digitally in the Middle East than in other parts of the world.
Employee engagement is a current hot topic in B2B marketing, she adds, and parallels exist between the employee journey and building customer loyalty. “Think talent to employee, and then loyal employee who promotes the company,” says Brosen. “It’s exactly the same as prospect to customer to recommender or referrer.”
Just as your best customers are the ones who are most likely to refer you to other customers, the same happens with employees. “Only the thing about employees is that they don’t only recommend you to other potential employees,” she says. “They also recommend you to potential customers.”
Only 16 per cent of respondents said it was a priority over the next year to “ensure their organisation is ‘living’ the brand”. And even then, it was only their third priority. “It’s never top of marketing objectives,” says Brosen. Only 3 per cent of brands thought that there should be more of a digital component to understanding employees. “This seemed lower here [than in other markets],” says Brosen. “So the level of awareness is similar, but perhaps the level of potential is lower.”
She cites research that has found companies with more engaged employees grow faster. “The reason is that actually – apart from practical things like employees don’t leave as often, therefore you don’t spend all your time recruiting people and rack up your recruiting costs – a lot of that is about people being a communications channel.”
As a result, Newman says he expects Omobono’s work in the region will increasingly be looking at employee engagement as well as more traditional marketing. “The market is wising up to it,” he says. “As they understand it more, so it will be on the increase.”