For argument’s sake, all brands are customer focused. After all, a business could not survive without them. However, not all brands are customer centric.
But what does it mean?
Putting it simply, a genuinely customer centric brand puts the customer and their experience at the heart of all its decisions. In regards to marketing, a customer centric approach means placing the customer at the centre of the marketing strategy.
Another way of putting it is; ensure that everything you do, with regards to your marketing strategy, has a positive end-result/impact for or on your customer.
Customer Centric Marketing
Whether it’s through specialised content, bringing customers into the storytelling process or perfecting personalisation, this approach is critical for succeeding. Mistrustful customers will only see greed, vanity and apathy from brands that don’t start and move forward with them in mind.
It sounds easy, right?
The approach starts with marketers and brands being conscious of the very different needs and wants of their customers, and moving away from the ‘one size fits all’ mindset. Thankfully it’s very common knowledge that the cookie-cutter approach does not work.
Strong campaigns embrace the diverse customer as an important brand asset; communicating on individual levels, via the right channels, with the right messages, at the right time.
Customer centric transcends simply building excellent relationships with customers, but rather building a lasting resource to overwhelm competitors.
Yes, it’s an old concept. But it’s become hot again due to the shift in brand perceptions thanks to social media, higher customer standards, instant communication and the Content Conundrum, to name but a few reasons.
Advantages of customer centric marketing includes:
- Heightened customer loyalty
- Higher conversions and increased returning purchases
- Improved content efficiency and decreased wastage
- Precise, authentic campaigns
- Market differentiation
The Customer Centricity Complication
With those benefits on offer, it’s surprising that this approach is still not an active part of some brands marketing strategy. For some, relationships with customers have either stagnated or weakened.
There appears to be a large disparity between how well brands believe they are communicating with customers, and how well they actually are. This Customer Centricity Complication goes to show how many brands have lost their way.
What’s Been Going Wrong
Budgets have been stretched: For years now, many marketing teams have been pressured to make budgets go further, and prove ROI on every penny spent. Even the brands that have seen increasing marketing spend have found that it’s not a significant enough rise to keep up with the changing marketing landscape.
It’s getting harder to stand out from the crowd and talk to the customer: Buying habits have changed, customer technology has changed, there are so many more communication channels than before and customers are platform promiscuous. Tailoring messaging, and anticipating customer wants at the right time and the right place seems much more complex than ever before.
Teams work in silos: As brands have grown, and spread internationally, many have fallen under the marketing silo curse; teams lacking communication lose sight of shared goals, stop cooperating and hinder innovation.
Data has been ignored or neglected: In-depth data is key to fully understanding your customers, as a whole and as individuals. Whilst many brands track and scrutinise analytics, reactive actions based on the data are hindered by a lack of time or resources.
Becoming Customer Centric Marketers
Take Ownership: Customer centricity requires marketers to take the reins and control the direction. Having company-wide objectives, including shared KPI’s and goals to measure and monitor centricity across all customer touch-points will help realign siloed teams, particularly when results rely on each other. But don’t make the mistake of having a single owner of customer experience, it’s absolutely a team effort.
Champion Team Effort: Take a look at the way your company is structured, and tear down the walls that are hindering marketing collaboration. Make internal marketing and content cooperation a reality and success. A centralised Content Acceleration Platform will make both the internal and external distribution of content an absolute dream.
Devote Effort To Customer Intelligence: Don’t treat customer insights as an afterthought, instead commit dedicated time and roles to the understanding of your customer’s behaviour. Find out where they are spending their time online, what they are saying about your brand, products and services, what entertains them and what bores them. Monitor the right metrics to identify knowledge opportunities. More advanced levels of customer comprehension leads to better informed marketing decisions and ultimately higher engagement and conversions.
Storify Your Content: We’ve said before that people are storytellers by nature and fortunately for marketers, storytelling has never been easier. There is a plethora of inspiration out there to spark interesting, engaging stories. Regardless of what form of content you’re creating or repurposing, make sure it tells a relevant, interesting story to your customers. Don’t forget to tailor them not only to the funnel stage, but also the customer’s true interests, not hypothesised ones.
Use Customer Advocacy: There is a new chapter in customer centric marketing, where customers are now propelling brands stories and shaping peers perceptions. Customer advocacy, also known as User Generated Content (or UGC) is a powerful tool for accelerating emotive storytelling. It can be quite a challenge to strike the right balance between telling a compelling narrative and integrating the brands commercial interests. UGC enables marketers to find a happy medium, creating intelligent content communications with authentic, trustworthy messages.
Use Influencers: Influencers have the capability to offer the perception of an unbiased and honest view of a brand, product or service. It’s not just awareness they drive, but also desire and demand. Influencer marketing is all about customers; you’re engaging them on a personal level with people that they hold in high esteem.
Quick Tips On Keeping The Customer At The Heart Of Your Marketing
- Continuously listen to what customers are saying
- Engage with customers messages and feedback about your brand
- Predict and action customer needs
- Constantly improve the customer purchasing journey and experience
- Be mindful and respectful of customer data, privacy and copyright
- Include all employees in the plan and encourage them to engage
- Create roles with accountability for improving the customer experience
- Improve internal communications and make the sharing of marketing assets easy
- Keep the customer should front of mind during every strategy meeting, campaign and policy
Food For Thought
Engaged, loyal customers don’t just spread positive communications about your brand, they insist their peers connect with you too. But if you’re not going to put them at the heart of your marketing strategy, they won’t bring you into their heart.
At StoryStream, we understand all the marketing hurdles you come up against. If you’re struggling with delivering effective and persuasive campaigns, our experienced content experts are primed to help you make them a reality and a success. Get in touch today to find out more.