Marketing is Aligning to Shine

The Evangelists’ Chapter 22, entitled: “Marketing is Aligning to Shine'' featuring Karen Gagnani, the Country Marketing Manager for both the Philippines and Guam site of Kimberly Clark Professional.

Learn about Sales and Marketing Alignment

The following is an excerpt from The Evangelists: Insights from Leaders of the Nation’s Most Beloved Brands. Written by Pancho Dizon, this chapter is titled “Marketing is Aligning to Shine.” In it, Karen Gagnani, the Country Marketing Manager for both the Philippines and Guam site of Kimberly Clark Professional, is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in market re-alignment.   

Adapting through External Business Factors

It’s Karen Gagnani’s job to ensure things go smoothly and efficiently on the B2B aspect,  being the Country Marketing Manager for both the Philippines and Guam site of Kimberly  Clark Professional, the business-to-business side of personal care brand Kimberly-Clark.  The job keeps her busy, she explained, as it’s her responsibility to see to it that the sales  and marketing teams reach the annual financial objectives set by the company. She does  this duty by deciding what strategies these teams will take, such as what products to focus  on marketing and which specific demographics to go after.  

“Of course, this had to be modified when the COVID-19 pandemic hit,” she said. “Just like  many other businesses, we had to temper our expectations for the year and realize that  we probably weren’t going to hit the financial objectives we initially set. We also had to  get creative because face-to-face sales calls are such a big aspect of B2B and that was no  longer possible for the time being.” 

As a result, Gagnani suddenly found herself with the massive task of steering the company  through an unprecedented crisis.  

“What helped me through it was reminding myself of the importance of aligning with the  teams I work with―whether it’s the sales team, supply team, or finance,” Gagnani said. “So  although we all have different ways of working, I encourage it, as long as we all have the  company’s growth in mind.” 

Gagnani noted that this is especially paramount in the B2B world, where she said that  sales and marketing should not be thought of as separate entities. “The job of sales is to  go out there and sell as much as they can,” she said. “But when it comes to marketing, the  responsibility becomes to make sure every move they do out there in the field is the most  efficient one, that the focus is in the right place.” 

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, this challenge meant giving Kimberly  Clark another way to reach out to their clients that didn’t put their sales team at risk. Thus,  the company resorted to using online platforms such as Shopee to keep the business going  while still making sure their company profiles were consistent with their brand image and  vision.  

“This was important, not just for us, but also for clients who wanted to buy from us in  bulk and know it was a credible source. More so, a lot of what we make is considered  essential goods,” Gagnani said, referring to their hand hygiene products and PPEs. “Some  local government units (LGUs) such as barangays (smallest local government unit in the  Philippines) and hospitals purchased items through our Shopee online store. Even though  it was new to us, I’m proud to say we managed to gain pretty good traction within the first  10 to 11 weeks of being present online.

 

Here, Gagnani managed to align the goals of their customers and their sales team while  ensuring the safety of everyone involved.  

Yet Gagnani pointed out that the concept of alignment also extends to identifying  customer needs and making sure Kimberly Clark is able to deliver. According to her, a good  marketing campaign needs to be anchored on thorough market research to really connect  with people.  

She recalled past experiences where the company would simply import popular products  from the American market to the Philippines, expecting that they would instantly be  met with the same success. In contrast to this sort of “top-down” approach to product  launching, Gagnani emphasized that when a marketing campaign or product is strongly  hinged on a market need or based on a strong market feedback, then success is “almost  100% guaranteed.”  

“It also helps us plan exactly what to promise,” she said. “A common marketing mistake is  to overpromise and underdeliver. When we know exactly what people are looking for, we  can underpromise and overdeliver instead, which always delights them.” 

This emphasis on being aligned with the customer is also why Kimberly Clark invests  heavily in training their sales and marketing teams. Not only are they trained to answer  inquiries swiftly and effectively, they take to heart Kimberly Clark’s brand promise of being  an indispensable business partner. This way, customers can get a consistently fulfilling  experience each time they deal with the company.  

Finally, one of the ways Gagnani measures the success of her initiatives is through feedback  from Kimberly Clark Professional’s channel partners. She offers up the example of their  Annual Distributor Conference, wherein members of the sales team participate in team  building with channel partners and make sure everyone possesses the same mission and  vision.  

According to Gagnani, “After events like these, I always look for feedback and I’m happy  to say an overwhelming majority are positive. Many share that they leave the conference  energized and with a renewed sense of purpose.”  

Thus, whether the Kimberly Clark team is talking to a key decision maker, an organization  or even a distributor, what comes first is aligning and understanding each party’s goals.  While this idea forms the heart of Gagnani’s marketing philosophy, the odds are it’ll work  for just about anyone.  

“It’s easy to chase numbers and targets in marketing,” she said. “But if you forget to take  the time to try and understand your market, as well as taking care of your team, success  becomes difficult.”

 

To get more insights from other marketing leaders like Karen Gagnani, please check out the full book, available for purchase here


The Evangelists - and other business books about the Philippines and Asia Pacific - will soon be streaming on Audiophile, our platform for exclusive Filipino audiobooks. 

 

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