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Kathy Button Bell has been named 2013-2014 chairwoman of the BMA. She’ll serve as vice chair for the next 12 months. Bell, VP-CMO of Emerson Electric Co., spoke with BMA Buzz about her plans to grow the BMA as well as her role in helping to transform the 122-year-old Emerson — which originally sold motors — for the digital age.
BMA Buzz: As you take on the helm of Vice Chair of the BMA for 2012-2013, what are your top marketing priorities in terms of helping to grow the membership of the organization and enhancing its visibility?
Kathy Button Bell: As vice chair I want to aid and abet [current BMA Chairman] Eduardo Conrado in every way I can. First, I love his priority to better integrate the local chapters and the national organization and their boards. Our ability to share best practices, share valuable marketing content and better promote the organization should increase many fold.
Also, the combined international reach of Emerson and Motorola should be a terrific boon to our global growth. We were both early movers in Asia and share a number of major markets that should help us in our targeted reach efforts. The more he and I can share priorities the better opportunity for continuity of effort going forward.
BMA Buzz: In your presentation at the Grow conference, you discussed your role in transforming Emerson into a nimble and relevant company for the digital age. What do you think are the major takeaways for other B2B marketers who work for traditional brands?
Bell: A few basics can help every traditional company move forward. First, concentrate on what you do and not on what you make. This is a terrible mistake that manufacturing companies tend to get mired in. Secondly, practice research and great listening skills to better define exactly who the company is and what it can grow into. You need to stay true to the authentic “bones” of the company. You don’t want “reinvention” — you want to build aggressively on your differentiation. Third, think of complexity reduction in marketing.
Less truly is more when trying to make progress. Always go back to your architecture and your main brand idea(s). Spend good dollars toward making those clear, before you start diluting.
BMA Buzz: You also talked about the importance among B2B marketers to practice out-of-the box thinking, such as revving up the company's color scheme and deploying rock music to accompany the messaging. Why is that so crucial for B2B brands?
Bell: B2B and industrial brands have historically been rather prim and conservative in their corporate presentation. In the digital world and the investment world, we all live directly contingent to consumer brands and global power brands. Why be blue and use elevator music, when you can be colorful and portray yourself with distinctive music? That is generally not a cost issue — it is a choice.
A company should be reflected authentically and with as much modern sophistication, confidence and drama as is appropriate to a media environment. Stealth marketing is simply not going to wield a company anything but inattention.
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