Creative thinking that delivers results

08 Mar

Updated: Great marketers think like their customers

Category: Marketing
Written by: Ian Turner
marketing strategy, customer experience, customer satisfaction, marketing communications

In April 2011 I wrote a blog on why great marketers need to think like their customers. Much has changed in the marketing world since then, what with the continued growth of digital marketing and social media plus the increased reliance on technology in marketing to name but a few. Customer-centricity has become a way of life for marketers as we struggle to find better and more effective ways to engage with our customers, identify influencers and remain relevant. With this in mind, I thought we should take another look at how the customer is impacting marketers today.

The age of the customer

Customers are more sophisticated today with more complex needs and wants and higher expectations on the value brands must deliver to them. Indeed, as I’ve written in the past, the “age of the customer” is upon us; customers wield more power and influence today than ever before. Brands need to be fully embrace this phenomenon and take the necessary steps to deal with this shift in power.

Ultimately, customers want to be valued and treated as individuals with their own unique needs and desires. At the same time they yearn for more personalized and relevant marketing messages from the brands they trust. Marketers must in turn evolve by demonstrating that they’re adding value by creating relevant and compelling content and messaging that resonates with each one of their customers.

The fact that marketers have struggled with the personalization puzzle (largely due to logistical issues and the volume and complexity of available data) has made this scenario all the more glaring. But in order for us to think more like our customers in 2018, we need to figure this out - and quickly!

In fact, research has shown that customers are willing to share their personal information with us if it helps to provide them with a more personalized experience. They want more relevant product offers, promotions and recommendations while eliminating the traditional ‘cookie-cutter’ approach.

Ask your customers for their input

Some may disagree with the notion that market research is not what it used to be. In the internet era, primary research usually takes the form of online surveys, which often fail to provide any contextual data from respondents. Can the reams of quantitative data that does exist replace the more subjective information that marketers have relied on for decades to help make important business decisions?

This really is the million dollar question in so many ways – what data can marketers rely on to make important business and marketing decisions, how much of it do we need and what sources can this data come from?

To suggest that objective information (i.e. sales, demographics, web history, etc.) can take the place of subjective data (i.e. customer opinions, beliefs, etc.) could be an oversimplification at best. Marketers should be encouraged to reach out and talk to their customers and prospects, collect their opinions and perceptions and use this information to enhance their personalization and overall marketing efforts.

Real customer engagement

Customer engagement should encompass much more than simply responding to comments on social media or online reviews. As noted earlier, it should also involve proactively soliciting their opinions and feedback via online surveys and where possible through telephone surveys and customer service calls.

Customers nowadays are ‘starving’ to be heard and they want brands to listen to them! They know what they want and they’re simply looking for companies that can help them make it happen with the right product or service at the right time and at the right place and price.

If brands are able to figure this out and somehow drill down to the individual customer level, they will have hit the proverbial homerun, increasing their relevancy in the eyes of their customers, building loyalty while also improving their ROI.

Step into your customer’s shoes

So go for it, step into your ideal customer’s shoes and understand what motivates them to purchase your products and services. Listen to them, reach out and ask them for their thoughts and listen again! Build mechanisms online and elsewhere where they can easily reach out and “tell you how it is”.

If the last decade has taught us anything, it would be that it’s only when marketers strive to build two-way communication loops with our customers that we can build their trust in us by demonstrating genuine respect and appreciation for them – by showing we care and that they matter!