Customer-Centric – a Step Beyond Customer-Focused

In today’s competitive market, customers have a large array of choices. Customer-centric marketing is a long-term strategy that invests deeply in making connections and building stronger customer relationships. At the heart of the idea of customer centricity is not just a focus on any old customer, it is a focus on your most profitable customers. A concept first addressed by Dr. Peter Fader, he explained it as looking at a customer’s lifetime value and focusing marketing efforts on that high-value customer segment to drive profit.

A study by McKinsey found a 15% or greater increase in marketing ROI for companies whose marketing strategies are data-driven and customer-centric. The strategy places individual customers at the center of marketing and embraces the idea that there is no “average” customer. It is a more pinpointed view than a customer-focused strategy which embraces a broader view of putting the customer in the center of things. Every decision made has at its foundation an informed perspective of specific customers.

Customer-centric content is content that has a clear purpose, an engaging and relevant perspective, and clearly defines the buyer’s journey. Map content objectives throughout the journey to avoid information gaps. Create and publish content for each phase of the buyer’s journey to provide the content each consumer will be most receptive to. Provide an experience that makes sense for where the consumer is – the right content at the right time because even fabulous, customer-centric content offered at the wrong time won’t work.

Content that best fits the target audience’s tastes will convert leads and establish repeat customers. Content should move away from lists that tell how fabulous your products are and towards more individualized communications. Excellent content is engaging, informational, useful, interactive, or meaningful. It revolves around the human experience. Customer-centric content contains information based on consumer data, provides high value and requests no commitment, and is tailored to user preferences.

Create ad stories that pull viewers into the experiences of the people in the ad. Tug at consumers’ emotions, help them identify with the real-life experiences of others. Aim to educate and inform before you attempt to sell. Articulate customer concerns and address their pain points versus calling attention to your products or services. Invest in your customers so they return the favor. Optimize your messaging so it is personalized and engaging.

Identify customer fears, needs, and desires then reflect those challenges in your content. Identifying these things not only helps you to better understand how to create engaging, relevant content, but also enables you to offer products and services relevant to those needs and desires. Build buyer personas based on consumer engagement data or past customer behavior including preferences for content type and delivery method. Further focus the personas on desired goals or behaviors to narrow in on segments.

Utilize customer engagement data to better understand and segment your customer base. A segmented audience allows you to manage demographic groups and to build around the unique requirements of each group. When you create more specific segments it conveys to the consumer that he or she is special and appreciated.

Use the data to identify those consumers who are most engaged and to derive insight into customer needs, behaviors, etc. Analytics can inform you of shifts in buyer behaviors and assist you in understanding how to change your practices to meet changes in need or want. Define and measure metrics that inform the best content, timing, platform, etc.

A two-way dialogue is essential for today’s consumers versus the one-way, brand to customer approach of traditional marketing. Make customers part of the solution, part of the evolution of your brand’s user experience. Use surveys and other approaches to ask them for their opinions. Then listen and act on their recommendations. Allow your brand’s story to be told by customers or through customers. Display testimonials and reviews. Create forums that allow a community to evolve from your loyal customer base. A consumer-centric approach embodies the art of blending customer perception with customer metrics.

Inbound marketing is another key. It allows you to facilitate a journey with your customers, to attract and then convert them. Personalization is an effective way to engage customers, generate a sense of community and gain loyal customers. And remember that the sale isn’t the end of the relationship. Continue to nurture customers. It is easier to gain repeat business than new clients. Monitor customer interactions, respond to comments, foster engagement.

It is difficult to change from revenue-centric to customer-centric and there are common challenges to consider. There needs to exist a commonly held definition of what it means to be customer-centric. Leadership and culture of the organization must be aligned and must model customer-centricity in all aspects of the business. Consistency throughout your brand and across channels is important to continually reinforce your brand in the consumer’s mind. And the organization must shift the focus on sales to second place. You create value by keeping the customer experience at the center of all you do.

There are three groups of customers. Those who are “lukewarm” are about 70% of your base. They like what you offer but are not committed to your brand. Those who are “warm” make up approximately 20% of your base. They appreciate your brand and with some effort can be developed into loyal customers. 10% of your base is “hot.” They love your brand, use your loyalty program and can’t imagine going anywhere else.

Hardcore customer-centric types would tell you to focus on the 10% as they will, most likely, yield the most revenue. Many others would encourage you to pay attention to multiple demographics, to embrace the idea that a different approach will convert the 20% warm folks into regular customers and that all is not lost with the 70% lukewarm group.

Use data to capture customer insights and understand what consumers want. Focus on those customer needs and wants and then develop offerings around them. Focus on building relationships. Establish strategies that create and keep profitable, loyal customers. Simply put, acknowledge there is no “average” consumer, deliver the right content at the right time, all while you are fostering long-term engagement that builds relationships and generates return business.

Are you ready to refocus your efforts and shift your center to your customers? Contact Strategy Driven Marketing to set up a consultation for this and all of your digital and marketing needs.