Change is hard. It's especially hard for B2B brands. And it's harder still for B2B brands that have been around a lifetime. Kelly Hungerford was still a technology consultant when she undertook to bring Sunstar Europe, the European arm of oral care brand Sunstar Global, into the digital age.
The company, founded in 1946, has both B2B and B2C groups, and leadership wanted to explore new digital channels for building brand awareness, as well as enhancing customer experience and engagement throughout the customer relationship.
Kelly helped Sunstar Europe manage the change to digital; along the way, she changed her own status with the company from consultant to in-house digital strategist.
I invited Kelly to Marketing Smarts to talk about the journey, both for Sunstar and for her, and to share insights on how a traditional brand with diverse audiences can successfully update its approach to achieve digital success.
Here are just a few highlights from our conversation.
Tackle digital transformation one step at a time (but start with the most important step) (10:55) "For the organization, when you're talking to management, they're specialists in what they do with the product development. They're the seventh largest oral care company worldwide and they're the leader in Europe, so they're doing something right. But it was difficult, in some ways, saying 'now is the time to start using digital to open up new opportunities and here's how you do it.' Where do you start? That's massive.
"We were really practical. We built a program in three different areas. One was they needed a digital revamp for their flagship brand. That was one website that serves the region, one coherent brand presence—one for consumers and one for professionals."
"And then the second step was to say, 'We also need to work on integrated marketing communications.' It's not enough just to be trade marketers today. You have to be able to integrate that. The third part was building a digital services center.
"A lot of it was education. Before we did anything, it was pure education.... A lot of transformation rightfully starts in the marketing department because it's consumer-facing and marketers are really at the forefront of everything happening [there]. But it's really business transformation."
Provide clear destinations for each audience, especially if you serve both B2B and B2C (14:55) "We come from a professional background in talking to oral care professionals— pharmacists, hygienists, periodontal experts. Having said that, it seemed like a lot of the campaigns and a lot of the traditional trademarking that was done was, in some ways, there were geared towards consumers. But we weren't talking to consumers.
"We split that out and we have two different sites now. There's one for professionals and then there's SunstarGum.com. I see the marketers and they're really excited to engage consumers because they didn't have these tools before to talk to them. Yet, we really need to build and continue that professional relationship. What I've learned is that professional recommendation is so important for consumers to trust the product and want to purchase."
Having multiple audiences doesn't necessarily mean you need multiple teams (15:55) "The teams are working best integrated. We don't have one team for professional and one team for consumer. We keep it together and then we really think about each integrated campaign and all the touch points. We build out experience journeys. We talk about 'what are our business goals and the KPIs and where do they fit on this plot line? How do we reach them? How does a consumer engage with a Sunstar professional at an event? Or how does a dentist engage with a Sunstar professional?'
"We plot that all out and plug in the technology and the content that's needed. These journeys are helping the team understand how they can take one campaign and build it out for professionals and consumers."
Kelly and I talked about much more, so be sure and listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
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Kelly Hungerford, director of digital transformation strategy and services for the consumer business group at oral care company Sunstar Global. She’s also a co-founder of Women in Digital Switzerland. Follow Kelly on Twitter: @kdhungerford.