Every business knows what it has to offer its customers. But that doesn't always translate into content that communicates how their product or service solves customer problems, creates value for them and addresses their wants and needs. A secondary problem is that many marketers take into consideration only the very basic AIDA model (attention, interest, decision, action). But our web-influenced, experience-rich world has added a few more steps to that consumer behavior journey, and has necessitated strategies for morphing customers into brand evangelists.
As a result, it’s important to add value to every part of the customer journey and to address customer wants and needs through marketing strategy that is driven by customer-centric content. Customer-centricity is important because it helps move consumers down the sales funnel.
What is customer-centric marketing?
Customer-centric marketing is the practice of prioritizing customer needs and interests at every stage of the customer journey and in every interaction with your business, such as sales, delivery, promotion, advertising, and social content.
To create a truly customer-centric marketing for your business, first ask yourself:
How are customers connecting with your business? Is it via social media, the website, email, phone, or something else?
Is value communicated in each of these channels?
What can be done to improve the customer’s experience at every touchpoint?
Three Tips for Creating a Strong Customer-Centric Marketing Strategy
Making the shift from product marketing to customer-centric marketing can be stressful for a marketing staff that isn't well versed in customer-centric marketing, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are three tips for creating a strong customer-centric marketing strategy:
1. Get Senior Leadership Involved
To help ensure the success of any new strategy, it’s important to get the support and enthusiasm of senior leadership. A customer-centric marketing mindset starts at the top of the organizational chart. If senior leaders prioritize customers at every channel and interaction, it will encourage others in the organization to do the same.
Equally important is a shift in analytics. The important numbers are those that tell you how well your content is engaging customers and potential customers. Look at social engagement—comments and shares, not page likes. And then take the time to answer comments and thank visitors for sharing your content.
Look at blog and website bounce rates and average time spent on each page of your website and blog. Look at email open and click-through rates.
Discuss all of this at weekly marketing town hall meetings. Measuring results will drive you toward better strategies and tactics.
2. Learn About Your Customers
Gain a better understanding of your customers by doing some of the following:
Conduct surveys asking customers about the quality of the service/product, the company’s strong points, where it can improve, and how they most interact with the brand.
If your company records customer service calls, start listening to those calls--as many as you possibly can--to gauge customer sentiment about your product as well as your customer service. And yes, the customer-centric approach must be implemented throughout your entire organization, right down to your call center.
Have one-on-one interviews with current and former customers asking about their experience with the company, why they choose to remain loyal, or why they left. Keep in mind, though, that former customers may not want to talk with you. That's why monitoring social media and the internet in general is essential. Customer sentiment analysis must be an ongoing effort, and the results of those analyses should be communicated to and discussed with senior leadership.
Invest in a tool like Brandwatch so that you can monitor what people are saying about your business online. For example, if customers often take to Twitter to complain about how difficult it is to navigate your website, that could be a sign to update the site. You can also gauge the type of content your customers like to see on social media. Perhaps on TikTok you notice followers enjoy behind-the-scenes videos, while customers on Twitter enjoy having their questions answered or reading important announcements.
Read through customer emails and monitor calls to see how customers are interacting with your company.
3. Add Value to Every Customer Interaction
Customers, or potential customers, can be at any stage of their journey with your company, which is why it’s important to create appeal at every touchpoint. Whether they interact with your organization via social media, are calling to get help with a problem, or they are at the end stage of purchasing a product/service, every part of the buyer’s journey should spark engagement and excitement.
Customer-Centric Marketing Case Studies
One of the best loyalty programs ever created can be found at Starbucks. Starbucks no only understood that customers are pressed for time, but they answered the underlying need: time-efficient purchases. Starbucks has used their loyalty program to cater to the needs of customers who are on-the-go.
Starbucks’ loyalty program not only gives members a variety of discounts and other offerings to encourage repeat visits, it also offers in-store pickup. For customers who want to avoid inconsistent timing due to lines, this is a major value-add. Via the app, members have access to the same level of customization that is available instore, but the ability to bypass the line and pick up their drink at a scheduled time. While these customers enjoy the privilege of lightning-fast service, other, less time-sensitive customers are still able to experience Starbucks at a slower pace.
This approach has rewarded Starbucks with the most popular app among major restaurants, with 48 percent of app users regularly using their loyalty app.
Patagonia has aligned itself with environmentally-friendly goals for decades, but recently, their marketing efforts have served to showcase their environmentalist mission statement. This is likely due in part to young adults' heightened interest in sustainability. But Patagonia has also been smart in their understanding of the skeptical nature of today's young adults. They're more discerning than their older counterparts, and they rarely pay attention to anything that sounds like nothing more than a glorified sales pitch.
Instead of merely talking about their sustainability efforts, they have made transparency a top priority, providing customers with a wealth of information about their production process. They publicly list the mills and factories in which their apparel is produced, and they make readily available a strictly-enforced Supplier Code of Conduct. Patagonia also has been more than willing to answer questions about the sourcing of their products and are honest about their shortcomings. This upfront honesty has helped assuage the concerns of some skeptics, and has instilled trust that Patagonia truly believes--and lives--their mission statement.
Patagonia clearly knows that customer trust is vital to their business, and that has led them to develop creative ways to demonstrate that the company values their customers. They have created repair guides to show customers how to fix their products when they wear down, and they encourage customers to repair and reuse their existing apparel as opposed to purchasing new items. To drive this point home, Patagonia launched a “Worn Wear College Tour,” where they visited college campuses and fixed any clothes brought to them by students. These marketing activities do not directly benefit Patagonia’s bottom line. Rather, they exist to prove to potential customers that Patagonia values sustainability over sales.
Final Thoughts on Customer-Centric Marketing
On it's most basic level, customer-centric marketing is about more about showing than telling. Don't tell them what you've got, what it does and why it's better than what the competition offers. Show them.