The State of B-to-B Marketing in Asia: Moving Toward Digital 

A standout in the B-to-B marketing field is David Ketchum, CEO of the demand generation agency Current Asia, and author of “Big M, little m Marketing: New Strategies for a New Asia.” David also serves as chairman of the Digital + Direct Marketing Association of Hong Kong. He kindly agreed to answer some questions based on his perspective on B-to-B developments in Asia.

3. Is Marketing Entirely Digital Here Now? What’s Working, When It Comes to Media Channels? 

Ketchum: B-to-B digital marketing and digital business is on the rise, as evidenced by Alibaba and the availability of trusted online payment systems. However, much of Asia’s B-to-B is still a manual and even face-to-face affair, with massive trade shows for every conceivable sector still the primary venue for promotion and sales.

Marketing automation hasn’t yet taken off for a couple of reasons. One is cost. The software licensing fees are large compared to the size of most marketing budgets in the region. And labor costs are lower here, which means the costs savings of automation are lower. There is also a conservatism about changing to the new processes that new platforms require — it’s amazing how many companies still batch-and-blast their company newsletter sent from Outlook!

All this is changing, however, as labor costs rise and automation becomes less expensive. And like elsewhere in the word, B-to-B is becoming consumerized. Why should someone have a powerful easy-to-use app for taking the bus to work, and then deal with antiquated systems and mountains of paperwork at the B-to-B workplace?

4. Your Agency, Current Asia, Seems to Be in the Forefront of B-to-B Demand Generation in Asia. How Did You Get Started, and What Capabilities Are You Offering Your Clients?

Ketchum: At Current Asia, we think the modern marketing wave is about to break in Asia, and we’re here to help clients surf it for competitive advantage. We believe that many of the barriers to modern marketing — traditionally trained company directors, concerns about ROI on software purchases, and strong reliance on relationships and face-to-face transactions — are about to fall away.

Current Asia starts by mapping our clients’ customer journeys, and clearly defining their target customer personas. From this starting point, we can clearly see what digital touchpoints and content are most engaging at each stage of the sales cycle. We then select the right marketing technologies and assemble them into a marketing tech stack that provides a single data view of the customer throughout the cycle, and that automates the lead nurturing and scoring process.

These new ways of engaging customers require new streams of content, from thought leadership, to tips and trends, to bite-sized product and customer service information. We offer content development services, too.

At Current Asia we help drive digital business transformation for some clients, and for others we provide the campaign and analytics services needed to drive their B-to-B marketing. It’s a great time to be in B-to-B in Asia.

Thanks, David, for the insights.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.  

Author: Ruth P. Stevens

Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, and teaches marketing at companies and business schools around the world. She is past chair of the DMA Business-to-Business Council, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain's BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She is the author of Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers, and Trade Show and Event Marketing. Ruth serves as a director of Edmund Optics, Inc. She has held senior marketing positions at Time Warner, Ziff-Davis, and IBM and holds an MBA from Columbia University.

Ruth is a guest blogger at Biznology, the digital marketing blog. Email Ruth at, follow her on Twitter at @RuthPStevens, or visit her website,

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