B-to-b creative moving beyond "stodgy' image

By Published on .

Jeff Hayzlett, VP-chief business development officer at Eastman Kodak Co., will take over as chairman of the Business Marketing Association at the BMA 2008 Annual Conference June 11-13 in Las Vegas. Hayzlett, who has been in his position at Kodak since January, was previously CMO of Kodak's Graphic Communications Group, serving the commercial printing industry. In the following interview, Hayzlett discusses the state of b-to-b creative, his goals as incoming chairman and the challenges facing the industry this year. BtoB: How would you characterize the state of b-to-b creative? Hayzlett: I think it's getting to be a much tighter domain, meaning it is getting to be more specialized. Most marketing professionals have gravitated to b-to-c because of their training and because it has always been the cool thing to do. B-to-b has been more direct—one word that has been used is “stodgy”—in the creative area until recently. The BMA is starting to pick up more members and increased stature as more and more marketers are finding specialties that are different from b-to-c. BtoB: What are some of the differences between b-to-c and b-to-b marketing? Hayzlett: B-to-c is more focused on brand-building activity. You're building big brands and iconic products and services. People may see your brand on a blimp or a billboard. The b-to-b side is becoming more educational and motivational. You see a lot more b-to-b marketing around tool sets that help customers build their businesses. BtoB: Kodak Communications Group won a Pro-Comm award for its “Print Is ...” campaign. What do you think made it effective? Hayzlett: We wanted to show that print is powerful and that we are your partner who will help build your business. We went around to different customers and asked, “What does print mean to you?” We learned that print is very personal and means different things to different people. We tried to capture that in the campaign. I think it resonated very well. People can rediscover print as a new, interactive medium. BtoB: How can marketers and their agencies work together to create effective campaigns? Hayzlett: You have to be very clear on the promise of what you're trying to deliver, so there is a clear objective in mind. The other piece is to have good and healthy, open debate. We do it inside of Kodak with our vendors, suppliers and partners. We do a lot of questioning about what we will deliver on, and it gives us a better product in the end. You have to have that kind of conversation with people. BtoB: What are your goals as chairman of the BMA? Hazylett: The key thing I'm trying to do is engage more C-level marketers in the membership. We will be adding a number of C-level marketers as executive leaders. We are really reaching out to more marketers that are dominant in this area—a lot of Fortune 500-type companies. We are also going to be focusing on additional programming exclusively for senior-level execs. A lot of organizations do a great job in professional development and training for all levels. We really want to provide a high level of programming aimed at the C-suite, particularly for b-to-b marketers. Another goal is creating opportunities for improved interactions between corporate marketers and agency service providers. As a leader of a worldwide brand, I am inundated every day. We want to create opportunities to have a dialogue rather than just a sales pitch. We also want to broaden our global membership in Europe, Asia and South America, as well as in developing markets. The BMA has been a fairly U.S.-centric organization. We will be broadening out globally. Finally, we want to expand our thought leadership initiatives in areas such as research and programming. BtoB: What are the key challenges facing b-to-b marketers today? Hayzlett: The biggest challenge for most b-to-b marketers is to develop expertise and domain competencies in the b-to-b arena. B-to-b marketers have to be subject matter experts in the markets they serve—for example, selling consumer electronics or professional services. But they also have to be subject matter experts in selling to businesses. A lot of marketers are trying to figure out how to spend their time and develop expertise in the b-to-b area. That is one of the biggest challenges for the association. BtoB: What about the economy? Hayzlett: I think that it is more overrated as a challenge than what it really is. A lot of smart marketers have already figured it into their plans for this year. While it's a challenge, it's not a roadblock. Companies and C-level marketers need to be looking beyond this year's horizon—maybe two to three years or even longer—to develop plans for a multiyear approach, not just quarter to quarter. BtoB: How is the BMA addressing these challenges? Hayzlett: I give a lot of credit to [2006-2007 BMA Chairman] John Favalo for really turning the organization around and giving it solid footing. [Current BMA Chairman] Keith [Pigues] has also been exceptional this year. Under his leadership, we brought on an executive management company. We needed to hire people to manage the association and let the board set policy direction. We have moved away from writing minutes, and planning every single aspect and handling registration at conferences to really, truly being a working board, focused on building the profession. BtoB: What are your plans for more thought leadership and professional development programs? Hayzlett: We're looking at more things that will tap into the behaviors of our target market. People are limited in time and are pretty tech-savvy. We plan to have more frequent webcasts, form partnerships with a few other associations to take advantage of their programming, build up our research and content library, provide more networking and face-to-face opportunities, and promote our chapters' programs. BtoB: What technologies do you think are most promising for b-to-b marketers? Hayzlett: One of our own is mapping out our members a lot better. Susan Spaulding [CEO of Market Directions] and her firm have been mapping out our own professional network, using some tools in social networking so we can do a better job of reaching our members. Everyone is interested in social networking as a whole and how to tap into the Web more and more. Mobile marketing is another key area. Also, how to be unintrusive in our marketing efforts yet making them more effective. M
Most Popular
In this article: