Customer Centric Marketing: Turning Customers Into Advocates
Understanding your customer base isn’t just about studying analytics, but about involving them – directly and indirectly. Many retailers tend to rely on historical data to forecast the future behaviour of customers, but the retail landscape is evolving far too quickly to keep making decisions based on the past.
The power shift between brand and customer happened during the economic downturn. Customers became more selective in which brand they chose to spend their money with and the winning brands were not just the ones with best offers or cheapest prices, but the ones who listened and gave their customers a great experience / service and built a relationship with them that still exists today.
At the same time as the downturn we saw the powerful rise of social media marketing, the explosion of social selling and mobile became a major part of the customer journey. Customers were now more empowered, and could research and compare products and services in real time and across multiple devices. It’s because of this that marketing campaigns and sales pipelines lie very much in the hands of the buyer.
Despite this shift in power, a large number of organisations still haven’t adopted a customer-centric approach to marketing and selling – but they may be missing a beat. It’s now it’s time to look at everything through the eyes of the customer.
Proper customer-centricity should have an impact on how an organisation is structured and run and accepting that doing something good for the customer might not always be the most financially rewarding decision for the business and that it can’t always be mapped to the bottom line, at least not in the short term.
Brands need to be more attentive to what customers want if we really want to meet consumer’s expectations, and not only react, but anticipate their needs and wants before they do.
Marketing is not just about selling products, it’s about developing a cohesive customer experience across all brand touchpoints and creating that affinity and love which customers have for brands. It may seem obvious, but it all starts with the experience the customer actually has, not the experience we think they should have. Ultimately, work on the customer experience is work to build your brand.
A few tips on how brands can look to achieve customer-centricity:
It’s true – content really is king! Customers turn to Google and Instagram to self-educate through the consumption of digital content. They key is to create content that tells a story and is human, in a variety of formats such as video, how-to’s and tutorials, podcasts, lifestyle imagery.
Bring that content to life through creating an growing a community. Create a space on your site, in-store or through your social where customers can interact, engage with team members, view content such as how-to’s, tutorials, demos etc, educate themselves on products, read other customer testimonials an on and offline events to bring the community together.
Advocacy is about people and the relationships you create. You need to craft experiences that evoke emotion. Advocacy is reciprocal and earned. Be an advocate for your customers so your customer will want to advocate for you. The best advocacy programs are those that find ways for you and your company to provide value to your customers through exclusive news on product launches, invites to events, free samples, coupons and vouchers etc.
As marketing professionals, it is our job to listen and put customers at the heart of everything we do, but customer-centricity is a culture, not a department – so every aspect of a company should be aligned with the sole purpose of creating an optimal customer experience. No doubt, in the near-future we will see more businesses not only hoping to deliver a customer-centric offering, but actually achieving it and in turn see customers champion your success.