Kyocera’s José María Estébanez reveals the challenges he faces as the company’s vice president of corporate marketing.
It has been nearly a year and a half since José María Estébanez landed at Kyocera Document Solutions America in Fairfield, New Jersey. After three years in the Netherlands, where he worked with current Kyocera America Document Solutions America President and CEO Oscar Sánchez, Estébanez was recruited by Sánchez to move to the U.S. and take on the role of senior director of integrated marketing communications.
It was a smart move and has worked out well as Estébanez was promoted to vice president of corporate marketing 13 months later.
Connecting with Sánchez in Europe was a stroke of good fortune for Estébanez. At the time, Sánchez oversaw sales and marketing and was responsible for building a team for Kyocera’s Marketing Innovation Center in Amsterdam. A couple of years after Sánchez arrived in the Netherlands, Estébanez joined Kyocera. Prior to that, he spent 10 years in various marketing positions at Deloitte España.
Since arriving in Fairfield, Estébanez has had a crash course on how Kyocera goes to market in the U.S., which is different than in Europe. For example, Kyocera’s Amsterdam headquarters supports 18 sales companies across Europe but doesn’t sell to dealers like the company does in the U.S. Estébanez was responsible for providing those European companies with sales and marketing technologies such as customer relationship management (CRM). His team also assisted with content campaigns for the various sales company’s websites. However, the biggest difference between the U.S. and European sales channels is the multi-line dealers that are so prevalent in the U.S.
“In Europe, it’s not common for dealers to carry more than two brands,” said Estébanez.
Estébanez’s marketing knowledge has taken him far, and his interest in technology has been an asset now that he is working for a technology company. He admits, there were a couple of surprises along his journey in learning about MFPs, printers, and solutions.
“It was surprising that we still segment products by speed,” he said. “It was a bit challenging at the beginning trying to understand all these rules and become familiar with all our technology and the reliability of our products. Of course, it is more difficult to compete on that today, but we still believe we have something unique in the market.”
Once the pandemic subsides, Estébanez is looking forward to visiting Kyocera dealers. The original plan for 2020 was to visit at least one dealer a month, but the pandemic derailed that plan. Estébanez still stays in touch with dealers via email and phone, especially about partnership programs and marketing development funds for dealer marketing campaigns. But, he acknowledged, it’s not the same as face-to-face interaction.
“That’s the part I’m missing the most because there’s a lot to learn from them,” lamented Estébanez.
In the meantime, Estébanez has been busy with various marketing initiatives and enhancing Kyocera’s image in the market. Perhaps you have seen the bylined articles by Sánchez published on The Cannata Report website. That was originally one of Estébanez’s ideas. Perhaps the most significant initiative of late is Kyocera’s new website, launched in November, with a new dealer portal. His team is also working with dealers on lead-generation campaigns.
“Dealers want more leads and more opportunities from us,” he said. “This is a platform for them to use the funds they receive from Kyocera and generate leads in their local markets.”
Estébanez is also working with Kyocera’s product team, ensuring that Kyocera has the proper strategy for managing its diverse product portfolio. With a growing portfolio and new high-tech solutions in the pipeline, Estébanez said that the company needs to improve its communication with dealers.
“We want to have more active communication not only for product launches but also for how dealers should be selling the products,” observed Estébanez. “Marketing wants to have a more active role in that relationship by building touch points with the dealers and our sales managers.”
In The Cannata Report’s two most recent Annual Dealer Surveys, Kyocera dealers expressed concern about the changes that have taken place since Sánchez took the helm. Change is hard, and Estébanez and Kyocera’s management are aware of those concerns and are addressing them.
“We have to assume that in the past, we did something as best as we could, but it wasn’t good enough,” he said. “Now we are trying to do things in a more professional way. We want to become a more transparent organization with all our stakeholders—dealers and employees.”
Transparency includes acknowledging past mistakes. As an example, Estébanez referenced Kyocera’s rewards program. It was disorganized, and some dealers were double-dipping by claiming multiple rewards for selling a product. Updating that program initially received some pushback, but now dealers understand why it had to be revamped.
“Sometimes the perception is that we changed something and now, it’s worse,” said Estébanez. “The reality is that we have almost tripled the number of dollars. Everything is more under control.”
Dealers are not the only ones having to adapt to a know way of doing things. Change is taking place internally at Kyocera as well.
“My main challenge is to convince people that the marketing team is an agent of change in this organization,” said Estébanez. “We have to become more creative because budgets are more constrained in this environment.”
But, according to Estébanez, things are moving in the right direction.
“We are united, we work hard, and we enjoy what we are doing,” said Estébanez. “Oscar is very demanding, and he puts a lot of pressure on us. That helps us to work as a team and we are determined and committed to this long-term project which will create a much stronger organization. That idea of being part of these changes, it’s not me, it’s not Oscar, it’s not Natalie [Cumberbatch, Kyocera’s vice president of human resources]—it’s all of us together.”
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