In February 2016, The Marketing Practice opened a new office in Munich, Germany. The office is headed up by TMP Germany’s Managing Director Andreas Bernhard, former Head of Product Marketing at a TMP client. We caught up with him to get some of his insights.
Why did you decide to start TMP Germany?
I saw a big opportunity for the German market. There are specialised agencies in Germany for telemarketing, direct marketing or creative services. When I was working with TMP as a client I realised that there is no agency in the German market that can offer the same breadth and depth: running a demand generation programme end to end, from the business case calculation, data development, direct mailings and social media, all the way to inside sales. We can take responsibility for the entire value chain to the ultimate outcome of qualified sales opportunities in the pipeline.
Why did you think the TMP offering would fit with the German market? How is it different?
We deliver programmes with our clients that focus on their outcomes: pipeline, closed business, developing new opportunities in existing accounts. This is the big differentiator – we consider the full picture, not solely the creative or some part of the value chain.
This is what marketing leaders really need – at the moment, they are either working with many specialised agencies, or they are bringing some functions in-house but still outsourcing others. Nobody wants to work with too many agencies: they want to focus on the marketing strategy and accomplish their objectives, not spend their time coordinating. TMP is solving that challenge in the UK, but no agency was yet offering that kind of end-to-end support in the German market.
What do you see as being the key benefits of a Munich office for TMP’s UK clients?
The big advantage for UK clients is that they can now drive not only a UK agenda but also a far more effective European agenda. You have the local competence, coupled with the consistent methodology from the UK. Plus, from the Munich office we are not only seeing business in Germany, but also in the Netherlands and France. So this base gives us the opportunity to take the same approach into further European markets and drive the same standard of outcomes.
What has been the most interesting project so far for TMP Germany?
That would probably be our demand generation work with Salesforce. Salesforce had huge growth objectives in the Mittelstand market, which covers more than 50,000 companies. It’s traditionally been a very difficult market for companies to break into, especially from the US. We needed to get an effective programme up and running in a very short space of time, which had the right tone and positioning for a unique audience, and could deliver hefty pipeline targets. We developed a programme to deliver end-to-end nurture from the first interaction all the way to an outcome. This covered target group segmentation, data management, content, campaigning, and much more.
Could you explain what you mean by the Mittelstand market?
The Mittelstand would be called the SME market in the UK or the USA. But even the Americans refer to the German SME market as the Mittelstand, because it is not only the size of the companies, but also a very specific mindset. These companies are the engine of the German economy. They are innovators but at the same time very mindful of their investments, so you have to make a strong case to convince them that you can sell to them. And that makes the Mittelstand fun to work with.
What has been the most interesting lesson for you so far about setting up TMP Germany?
When you are working across various locations you have to really think about how you are integrating your business functions. It is almost like business process outsourcing delivery, where we have certain functions in the UK and others in Germany. To orchestrate all of that is challenging. However, because the UK office acts as a knowledge hub, we can take advantage of that in Munich to deliver better outcomes than we could in isolation.
Secondly, in Germany we benefit from being much closer to our clients. I spend around 80% of my time in front of my clients, and that kind of intimacy bears a lot of potential for both the client and the agency. We’re expecting to see the same kind of benefits for UK clients from our new London office.
What do you see as the biggest differences between the UK and German markets for B2B?
I think that the UK is slightly ahead in applying modern marketing methodologies, while German marketers are more concerned with technology processes. There’s also a lot more competition in the UK, and that creates new knowledge and approaches. In Germany, where everyone is so specialised, that knowledge-sharing community is somewhat disconnected.
And finally, what would be your key advice for anyone considering expanding in Germany?
Get a native speaker with international experience. As silly as it may sound, I have seen so many UK businesses without native skills, and it just doesn’t work out. You need to build up trust, and language builds up trust. There are cultural differences between the UK and Germany, and you have to make sure this doesn’t become a sticking point. The personal element must not be underestimated. Overcoming the cultural differences is the key thing to consider when you’re expanding internationally.