Making your products and services attractively different is the tip for success that Daniel Chung, marketing manager, BIS-Commercial Product department, Canon Hong Kong Company Limited would like to share with his counterparts or newcomers in the imaging solution industry.
A marketing professional for more than a decade, Mr Chung believes the imaging solution industry provides plenty of opportunities but says more challenges also lie ahead for practitioners.
The imaging solution products of Canon Hong Kong Company are streamed into two main business lines — hardware and software. The hardware comprises imaging equipment including printers, facsimiles, print/photo-copiers and scanners, while the other represents application software products such as content management and printing systems which the company considers as "extended offerings" for clients.
To market its variety of products and services and ensure that clients enjoy positive servicing, responsibilities of marketing professionals in the imaging solution industry include cultivating a better understanding of the technology involved plus good communications skills for maintaining client relationships.
Sharing responsibilities among sales and marketing people is the norm in the industry, says Mr Chung. This empowers them to fill various roles such as helping to formulate and manage plans for new products, provide administrative and sales support, conduct sales forecasts, and play a part in product positioning and promotion besides delivering sales training.
As competition in the imaging solution industry is very keen and requests from clients tend to be more sophisticated these days, Mr Chung points out it is important to build long-term relationships with clients while constantly spurring creative efforts from marketing professionals to maintain the company's competitiveness.
"We can no longer treat our customers as transactional clients, just giving them catalogues to sell our products or services. Instead, we provide them with professional consultancy services and differentiate our products and follow-up servicing," he says. "We must be pro-active, establishing what their requirements are and providing them a total business solution that fills those needs."
Describing how to build up such positive and long-term client relationships, Mr Chung likens the process to something like being a player in an orchestra where each member must be committed to working together with the other players, thereby achieving mutual understanding for the benefit of all, being quick to identify clients' needs and always ready to respond to them.
He believes that while creativity is the soul of good business solutions for clients, the contribution of marketing professionals is indispensable in helping a company to win and retain business.
The company is very supportive to staff who devise brilliant yet practical marketing strategies. Mr Chung cites Canon's bold attempt to associate the colourful nightlife scene in Lan Kwai Fong with the launch of its colour printers, orchestrating a creative campaign that successfully drew clients' attention.
Last year, the company recorded 120 per cent growth in its sales revenue. Mr Chung attributes this success to the company's creative marketing strategies which aim at delivering accurate customer-related services to enhance clients' satisfaction. An integral part of last year's success was the company's ability to overcome strong challenges from competitors who dangled tempting offers before Canon's clients.
The company countered these challenges with its "value for money" strategy, also rolling out customised business solutions so that it not only retained old customers but won new ones. For example, to address the needs of the advertising industry, the company released a brand-new and customised business solution package that combined printing hardware and software applications that made it easier and faster to produce printed materials while ensuring top quality.
To continue its aggressive growth and development, the company will need more new recruits to strengthen its sales and marketing workforce. Mr Chung considers a suitable new recruit should be willing to undertake continuous study to upgrade his or her industry knowledge, plus a mindset for accepting new challenges. These qualities come before academic qualifications. Furthermore, relevant experience is not a pre-requisite to earn a ticket in the industry. He also advises newcomers to cultivate a passion for learning as much as they can about technology, and to polish their communication skills since they will have to communicate to clients the advantages of cutting-edge technology as related to advances in imaging. Such skills will also enhance their contacts with different groups of people in this dynamic industry.
- Develop a passion to thoroughly know and understand the new technology
- Possess good communication skills
- Demonstrate creativity, and be sensitive to market trends
- Enjoy working as part of a team
- Take the initiative to learn new developments and accept new challenges