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Marketing customer centricity

3dWhile customer centricity is nothing new, customer experience lies at the heart of digital transformation.

Digital is putting customers in the driver seat, transforming their purchasing decisions. Today’s customers are more empowered, they can get a lot of information online way before they need to get in touch with a sales representative. It is a true shift in power and organizations need to adopt a customer centric approach across their company to offer value.

While most companies today claim to put their customers first, a surprisingly small number are actually doing it right. Servicing your customers well cannot be put into a “one size fits all” strategy and marketing plays an important role in helping to achieve customer centricity.

It’s all about “Personas”
The better you know your customers, the better you can give them what they want. Customer centric marketing needs to acknowledge that there is no average customer. Nobody wants to be spammed with generic email promotions that do not speak to your needs or is just plain boring. This is where personas can help you. By understanding your audiences and buyer types, you can craft a specific message, with relevant content, in the right channels, creating value along the way and hopefully creating long-term relationships, ideally with your customers becoming brand advocates.

Understanding the customer journey
The ‘customer journey’ can be defined as all interactions that customers’ have with a company’s brand, product or services across all touch points and channels. In today’s digital world it is imperative that a seamless experience is created across all channels – and this includes on- as well as offline. Understanding the customer journey allows us to better connect, communicate and give the right information at the right time of the journey or purchasing process.

Make use of data
Too many marketers talk about data-driven marketing but data is only useful if the right technology and know how is in place to capture and analyse. Every day customers are telling us what they want by clicking, sharing, downloading. And it is not about collecting vast amounts of data but more to look at the data and understanding what customers need and want and then using that insight to develop better marketing campaigns, design products and services as well as other efforts and initiatives.

Customer centric business = social business
Customer intimacy relies on two-way conversation. Social media allows you to understand and communicate with your customers, making your relationship with them more meaningful. Social media is a key channel for customers in their decision-making. Make sure that you are present where your customers are present, that you listen, identify the gaps in customer engahement and respond in real-time.

The shift towards becoming a customer centric organization is complex and takes a long time. Marketing plays an important role in helping create a change in corporate culture where the focus is on the customer. The future of marketing (as always) is exciting and challenging.

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No more CMO at Heineken. Is this the start of the demise of the Chief Marketing Officer?

Heineken made quite a few restructuring changes last week, amongst others announcing that the CMO and chief sales officer roles would now be combined under one new Chief Commercial Officer role. While Heineken says this and the other changes will allow them to focus more on growth opportunities and be more agile, it raises the question, is the role of the CMO becoming obsolete?

I have worked with and for a number of organizations where marketing and sales operate as separate entities, with different goals, processes and especially strategies. But what good is a strong marketing plan with no buy in from sales? And what good is a strong sales force with a weak marketing plan behind it? In today’s world it is all about customer engagement and while marketing and sales may not use the same channels, they now need to provide one common experience.  That is why marketing and sales should not think twice about working together under one and the same strategy.

Does that mean the CMO no longer plays a role in the organization? Of course not. Marketers need to understand that just as businesses are moving more and more into the digital age so must our roles. This may just require that marketing and sales  act as one with one strategy.