It's neck on block time: Can you hold your head up high?

By Esti Kilian, GM: Marketing Services at Ricoh SA

Jacques called me into his office the other day.

“These are your KPIs,” he said.

“Hmm, OK,” I thought, as my eyes started down the list. I shifted slightly in the chair as I reached number nine. Maybe I cleared my throat a little too loud. By fifteen sweat pricked my upper lip. I smiled graciously at Jacques who continued to stare, narrow eyed. Right. Back to the list then. By twenty-two I needed wine by the glass. The bottle’s a glass, right? His office walls closed in on me like the cage of a prison cell. By the time I reached thirty-six on the list I squeaked. A little, involuntary squeak, the kind you imagine a baby koala makes when mommy koala rolls over in her sleep at night.

It was an awkward moment. We sat, his narrowed eyes locked with my wide, blinking saucers. We listened to the deafening creak of his desk as it expanded in the morning sun. I laughed then to break the tension. But it came out not in a kind of: “Ha, ha, that’s funny, we’re just two pals having a giggle,” kind of way. It was more the rasping bark that happens when you have a mouth full of wine and The Hottest Guy You Have Ever Seen™ suddenly appears at your side around the braai and says: “Hello, gorgeous.” At least if you’re quick you get to pat the wine off his broad chest with a serviette.

My version of the serviette pat that day in Jacques’ office closely resembled the acrobatics of the trapeze artists at Madame Zingara as I backed elegantly out of his office, a charming smile on my face. Either that or a drunk toddler tangled in a jungle gym. But that’s not important.

The point is, we all have KPIs. We are all answerable to some higher power. Even the boss has a boss. A good boss, I’ve discovered, will give you KPIs that challenge you but he won’t leave you hanging to stumble through the list, hoping to hell you manage to achieve them. He’ll lend a hand, offer encouragement, advice, listen, and even bark instructions when appropriate.

It’s as if they’re saying: “Do the impossible! But I’m here to help.”

You have KPIs too. Targets. Goals. Deliverables. Call them what you will, eventually there comes the time of reckoning.

A change has swept through Ricoh South Africa and you’ve undoubtedly experienced it at Kickoff. We all have new KPIs. But this year you’re probably thinking they’ve never been so challenging. From my point of view marketing must generate quantifiable leads. It’s neck on block time.

So what’s the plan? How are we going to achieve the targets?

Carrying on from my piece last week I’ve got 7 practical ways to implement customer centricity.


63% of industrial supplies buyers say they buy online. Customers are turning to online before other channels, which makes online your first port of call for buyers. So don’t forget – Ricoh will pay up to 50% towards creating or improving your website.

Social Media

Your website is your primary online tool but certainly not your last. You have to bring people to your website. Social media channels, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, are cost-effective and practical ways to achieve that. 93% of shoppers’ decisions are influenced by what they see and hear on social media because 90% of people trust peer recommendations.

That may be true for consumers, you say, but you’re not selling to consumers. You’re selling to serious B2B people. We must never forget that they’re still people, consumers in their own rights, and they’re increasingly demanding at work what they have in their personal lives, which includes mobility, connectedness, and a digital way of life. And 85% of B2B buyers believe companies should share information on social media networks.

We’ll help you with that too by sharing Ricoh-created content in your channels on your behalf. Dierdre Fernandes helps new business partners and Lauren Lopes helps our established business partners. Use them. And don’t be shy to get stuck in yourself. Work with Dierde and Lauren and they’ll guide you if you don’t know how or what to do.


Content is essential – you have to communicate with people. Infographics were the number one B2B marketing tactic of 2015. Firstly they share information visually. People apparently consume information 60x faster by pictures over text. That’s according to people who study that stuff. Not to say you can do away with text, but your visual story is crucial.

Stories are important too. Nobody wants to read a bland, factual overview of your company history. Tell them a story and you’ll be engaging one of the oldest arts of humankind – and one our brains are hardwired to receive and remember.

Vehicle Graphics

Be visible. Vehicle signage boosts name recognition 15 times more than other outdoor advertising. We have the equipment and the know-how to do that ourselves. Use it. It’s cheaper and more effective than our other similar options. Multiple brand touch points are crucial to recognition and remembering. And if you use our vehicle design we’ll pay 50% of the cost.

Strategic Campaigns

Buyers go through 57% of the buying cycle before they talk to you. 90% of businesses use content marketing and 91% of those in B2B use the same tactic. Why? It humanises your business. People don’t buy from companies. They buy from other people. Stories are how you humanise your brand and your company.


Face time with customers and leads is crucial. Again, it humanises your business. It also builds brand recognition. It showcases your office. It strengthens your community. It builds trust. And it’s an opportunity to talk with customers so they can hear how much knowledge you have about the industry, the technology, their business, and their own personal pain points. Nothing screams “Thought Leader” louder.

PR and Case Studies

Remember the peer recommendations so important to social media? Case studies do the same thing. It’s one thing for you to say: “I’m great!” (Advertising). It’s quite another for your customer to say: “These guys are the best!” (PR). We live in cynical times. People are jaundiced against everyone blowing their own horns. Help your customers tell their story of how you help them.

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