Throughout last year, I’ve talked a lot about one-to-one marketing and how with the rising tide of customer power marketers need to focus more on this personalized and empathetic approach. While it’s true that marketing’s main efforts have always been focused on gaining customers, in the past few years we’ve seen a shift where marketing has become more about “bragging” and less about value creation. However, with the Internet, social media, and mobile access there is more power than ever in the hands of today’s consumers. Influence no longer lies with the suave, silver-tongued marketer and glossy marketing brochures. Consumers need to be marketed to in the way they want to be marketed to. I believe that the “brags” have lost their effectiveness and we are coming to the end of “push”-based marketing.
Customer-centricity: Not Everyone is Getting it Right
As more and more brands are vying for a slice of the consumer’s attention, businesses need to restructure themselves, and become more customer-centric to stay ahead in the race. While most companies today claim to put their customers first, a surprisingly small number are actually doing it right. So, where are they going wrong? The fact is: some businesses are treating customer-centricity as a set of strategies meant solely for the customer-facing units of a business. They often forget that a customized or one-on-one approach is more than just a marketing goal for customer service reps and sales people.
In truth, it is actually part of an “evolved” marketing department that builds around a customer-centered approach. It is making customer-centricity the responsibility of the entire organization and not just a few departments. Customer-centricity can’t be captured in a solo marketing environment, and a company should concentrate on building a marketing ecosystem to emerge as a fully functioning customer-centric entity.
How to Build a Customer-centric Marketing Ecosystem
For any organization in the world, the target customers need to be at the heart of that organization’s marketing efforts and strategies. Brands, slogans, products, and media aren’t at the center; rather they are spokes that help to bridge the gap between the customer and the business. During many of our marketing classes, we learned about the 4Ps (product, place, price, and promotion). While they may still be relevant, today’s marketing has evolved from focusing on the 4Ps to a more complex system where the 4Ps are intricately linked with creating a memorable customer experience along every point of the buyer’s journey.
Looking to create a marketing ecosystem within your organization? Below you will find three points to keep in mind as you get started:
The importance of customer-centricity should permeate to all levels of an organization. Customers are no longer just the marketing department’s responsibility. They are a concern for the whole organization. How can other departments that are not directly communicating with customers play their part in achieving customer-centricity? By following through on their promises, maintaining delivery times, ensuring project deadlines are met, and monitoring processes to help the business run smoother and faster.
Customer intelligence should become the focus. The better you know your customers, the better you can give them what they want. Greater levels of client understanding generally translate into unprecedented customer engagement. With social media channels, it is easy to find your customers where they are spending time and speaking freely about the products and services that they want and need. Tapping in to those channels (and other Big Data) will help you to take the pulse of your clients and meet their expectations.
Key decisions should be made keeping customers in mind. Keeping the customer in mind when making key decisions is important because it ensures that the impact on the customers will be taken into account. When you can predict how a decision will negatively affect your customers, you can eliminate or cut back on making those types of changes.
With customer-centricity at the forefront, it is imperative that marketers stop and think about how they are going to keep their clients happy, but it is also important to create a company-wide climate where the focus is on the customer. Businesses that can do this will find themselves successful in the future, those that don’t take a holistic approach to caring for customers will struggle.