In product communication the classic 4P’s of marketing still continue to make sense. Even with the thousands of new tricks and tools that tech, globalization, and new user habits have brought along, the good old Product, Pricing, Place and Promotion –rule still applies. But when you start embracing the most efficient new tech and service models, it will inevitably lead to the lines between the 4Ps disappearing. That will also break down the 100 year old silos of global heavy industry companies. When it comes to communication it’s all merged together; design and development, manufacturing and prototypes, marketing, sales and after sales, and learning and maintenance.
The same digital material serves them all. And that material is no longer created by only the chosen few and then distributed to the others. No, it is created in open environment where everyone is taking part in the process. And moreover, the material is from the very beginning being shared to everyone by everyone, anywhere, and all the time; from the time the product is nothing but a twinkle in the eye of the designer to the time its already in use and needs maintenance.
Digital twin travels around
Once you make a digital twin of your product it will take the lead role in communication. The physical product itself will not play that important role anymore. The physical one, for sure, will work and look better because of all the communication that was taking place even before the product was made. And when your product works better and looks better, your commercial communication about it can be more honest. After all, as we all know, the best commercial communication is the company or the product itself. How it communicates reacts, feels, shares and cares, staying in truth, being part of society. And all this needs to be actively shared in social media. Otherwise your product will hardly make any success.
The sharing of information and communication that eventually leads to the merger should start already with design and development. Almost every item, manufactured by the growing high tech heavy industry in Finland, contains hundreds of components from subcontractors all over the world. The amount of time and effort saved, when the design and development team will not fly 150 days per year but simulates the prototypes virtually with the subcontractors, makes every CFO smile. The communications director shares that smile; green values proofed, half a million hours less flying.
In supportive learning and confident maintenance shared values with perfectly timed reactions are key issues. It is a known fact that already over half of the employees of the Finnish maritime, network and energy sectors work with aftersales travelling all around the globe all the time. Knowing that Finland is among the countries with the highest labour costs in the world, this costs vast amounts of money. Be it for learning or maintenance purposes, with mixed reality collaboration tools you get the senior talent and all possible product information to your wearables, wherever you are – without travelling.
Today also the customers of the Finnish heavy industry are more and more spread geographically. Bringing their heavy and often very big products to events and exhibitions in order to show the physical end product to customers is a huge and expensive effort. Now, you might guess I suggest that showing them virtually is the solution. Which it is, but what is even more important is that with virtual reality you can show products already before they exist physically. This is a huge benefit compared to the times – not much longer than a decade ago – when the marketing and sales people had to wait for their briefs until the product was almost ready. In many cases that meant waiting for several years. Whereas now the marketing and sales team can start their job already when the product is still in design and development phase.
It’s not either or but both and
Like we already know, calculating marketing ROI is not a hard task anymore. This merger of marketing and sales has led to a tug of war between the vendors offering communications services to heavy industry. On one side there are those who believe in building a brand based on emotions. On the other side there are those who believe in the power of cold numbers and Big Data. I think that a company not seeing that you need both proves that it is not capable of knowing the enemy, and certainly not capable of taking advantage of the proven benefits of the merger of these two in its own products. Luckily in Finland there are already a couple of companies who believe in this merger and who already make full use of it.
However, there will still be more resistance to the happy marriage of commercial and non-commercial communication. To the companies serving the heavy industry companies’ certain silo, concentrating only on brand, design, manufacturing, learning or maintenance, this merger will be particularly challenging. But there are already numerous rumours and actions telling the change is gonna come; big consulting firms stealing the ad agencies jobs, big companies hiring start-up talent, start-ups disrupting the dinosaurs, sharing economy disrupting even government laws, etc. And this is only the beginning of the courting game that will finally lead to the happy marriage; the merger of all product communication – commercial and non-commercial.
I believe in this marriage
For three decades I have been working with the leading Nordic companies. Working with their commercial communication and being involved with both creating content and formulating strategies. What makes me different from most people is that I’m equally passionate about both of them; on one side strategy and conceptual work and on the other production and distribution of the message; devices and data.
Being the co-founder and operative lead of 10 companies in this business area – most of which are still at your service – and having burned hundreds of millions of communication and marketing budgets, I believe in total merger of all product communication; about the product and between the products, commercial or not. This is what I believe in and I’m passionately working with it every day. I believed in it already 10 years ago. But finally I see that things are starting to happen. Concepts are proofed. This happy marriage of product communication and this new behavior of our industry is the best birthday present for Finland for its 100th anniversary.
If you share my thoughts, please shout it to [email protected].
John Grönholm, CEO, Stereoscape