Developing an integrated cross-cultural marketing communication strategy for software developing B2B SMEs
Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
This thesis has been created as a response to the growing interest among small and medium-sized business-to-business software developers to internationalise in order to grow their businesses. The initial study of the problem lead to the insight that a strategic mix of communication channels is a key success factor for an internationalisation. The purpose of this thesis was therefore determined to be to explore what and how different factors influence the effectiveness and efficiency of a business-to-business marketing communication mix strategy that leverages the brand, in the context of internationalisation of software developing small and medium-sized enterprises.
Academic literature within three areas, related to the purpose of the thesis, was identified and discussed and presented in a frame of references. The first area concerned the development process of a strategic business-to-business marketing communication mix. Following this, the culture factor, including how communication is affected by cultural differences, was considered as a relevant area to study and add to the frame of references. Finally, the internationalisation process of business-to-business small and medium-sized enterprises was studied. Based on the study of academic theory, an analytical model was constructed and targeted issues for each area identified for the subsequent empirical study.
An explorative case study approach was found to be suitable for the purpose of the thesis. It was performed by conducting qualitative interviews with representatives of the studied case company as well as a selection of its customers. Additional secondary data was withdrawn to triangulate with the primary data for the analysis of culture. By applying the analytical model to analyse the empirical evidence, using the academic theories and models from the frame of references, insights were generated and conclusions could be drawn.
The analysis found that a key success factor is to build credibility in the eyes of prospects, regardless of where they are on the journey from being unaware of the company to becoming loyal customers. This is due to the risk avert nature of business-to-business decision makers. The most important factor for establishing credibility is to be able to show strong customer references, which makes nurturing present customer relationships a critical activity for success.
Further, it was firmly established that the particularly long sell cycle that characterises the software industry in which the studied case company operates in, requires the communication channels to be integrated in order to be effective for the whole customer journey. Channels through which the communication can be adapted to suit a specific audience should be prioritised. Also, cultural differences and similarities should be considered, especially when it comes to views on power and the level of social restraint in the country to which the internationalisation is directed.
The digitalisation of communication is a trend that evidently has a significant impact on the effectiveness of a marketing communication strategy. Digital communication channels are becoming increasingly relevant and suitable for communicating customer references, demonstrating product features and conveying corporate brand messages. By developing a business-to-business digital marketing communication strategy that is culturally adapted, the preconditions for the internationalisation of small and medium-sized enterprises are improved.
On a final note, this Master’s thesis has identified a number of factors that influence the effectiveness and efficiency of a business-to-business marketing communication mix strategy that leverages the brand, in the context of internationalisation of software developing small and medium-sized enterprises. While this has contributed to academic theory, the findings concerning how these factors influence the effectiveness and efficiency provide practitioners with actionable insights. It is therefore the belief of the authors of this Master’s thesis that the content of this report can help managers of internationalising software developing small and medium-sized enterprises in their communication strategy development process.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 184 p.
Brand management, B2B, IMC, Internationalisation, Marketing, SME
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-119149ISRN: LIU-IEI-TEK-A—15/02275—SEOAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-119149DiVA: diva2:819407
Subject / course
2015-06-03, 3B:955, Palmberget, Linköpings universitet 581 83 LINKÖPING, Linköping, Sweden, 13:15 (Swedish)
Grundström, Christina, Assistant Professor
Sjöström, Roland, Universitetslektor