After a day Powerpointing his way through his company’s marketing strategies, Arun Sinha, chief marketing officer of Pitney Bowes, should be at home celebrating his wife’s birthday. But he has excused himself for an hour. A former journalist, he wants the story to be clear and so sits in Stamford’s La Fontanella Ristorante talking marketing and how being Indian has shaped his leadership and management styles. Of course, the conversation also takes in cricket; all with characteristically infectious enthusiasm..
The thing you’ve got to understand is that the Indian education system emphasises learning the basics,” says Sinha. “It is the left brain rather than the right brain. You learn to be analytical. Western education brings specialisation. Then if you add the hunger of a first generation immigrant that’s a great recipe for success and is difficult to beat.”.
Sinha’s career began with the launch of an Indian newspaper. Since then, he has helped revitalise Colgate’s oral care brands and launched the Mercury Sable. He spent ten years at Philip Morris USA and then founded and led Agorux, a software solutions company..
He joined Pitney Bowes in 2002, moving from business-to-consumer (B2C) to business-to-business (B2B) marketing. Pitney Bowes, a $5 billion company, best known for its franking machines, resides in classic B2B territory. This is, Sinha believes, a potentially fruitful area for marketers. “In entire business areas marketing is astonishingly neglected,” he laments pointing to the lack of interest in B2B marketing. According to Sinha, almost half of direct marketing sales (46 per cent of $2.34 trillion) comes from B2B companies. Yet, while huge amounts of dollars and attention are lavished on trying to reach consumers, very little marketing is devoted to B2B companies. Says Sinha: “There are very few marketers who devote any time or resources marketing to other companies. This is not because business-to-business does not require marketing but because the companies think very narrowly that marketing can be taken care of through the sales force and distribution channels. They do not try to leverage other aspects of marketing.”.
At Pitney Bowes, Sinha has brought his B2C marketing skills to work in the B2B world. Sinha instigated the first branding exercise in the company’s history. His approach, he suggests, was quintessentially Indian. “Young managers come to me every day. They have a great idea and want to get on with it to grow the business and make millions. I ask where are the analytics. Usually there are none.” Rebranding Pitney Bowes, Sinha began by talking to 2000 customers in eight countries and then to employees, sales people, executives, and customers.
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