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    Don’t forget the customer


    Consumers are overloaded with information, choices and marketing. If you want to ensure that your marketing efforts are being applied effectively, shift your marketing away from being product or campaign centric to a focus on the customer.

    Many marketing strategies are so product-focused that they forget the customer they are trying to reach. Others are too busy pushing mass marketing campaigns not tailored to individual customer needs.

    This type of marketing often comes from organisations that are structured around selling products and services. Individual business units or teams are dedicated to managing their own little patch and are missing out on opportunities to increase customer loyalty and cross-selling.

    Marketers can lose the customer perspective when their companies focus too much on market share. When your goal is to focus on the number of customers you want to have, you will end up with some customers that turn out to be unprofitable.

    A focus on increasing customer numbers can have a negative impact on customer loyalty. Many marketing campaigns designed to increase market share offer incentives and discounts to new customers but neglect to look after current customers.

    While gauging market share offers a very simple way to measure whether a marketing campaign has been successful, it may not be the most effective. It’s very easy to measure whether we have sold more products or gained new customers. What is more difficult to measure is customer-centric marketing where the goal is to bring in more profitable customers over the long-term.

    What is customer-centric marketing?
    Customer-centric marketing involves specific targeting of customers based on research. It is emerging not only as a marketing approach, but a way to do business. The result is a better connection to the customer and a product or service offering that is relevant and valued.

    The primary benefit of customer-centric marketing is that it increases consumer loyalty and as a result, customers will buy more from you over a longer period of time. It also helps marketing strategies to become more cost effective because customer-centric marketing aligns your investment with the potential profit of your customers.

    Here are some ideas to help you move to customer-centric marketing:

    Do your research
    Research is key to customer-centric marketing strategies. It can help you to view your marketing through the lens of a customer and to find your customer niche. You need to be able to identify, understand and deliver what the customer wants. How do they respond to your marketing campaigns? Does it resonate with them? Do you know what media your customers consume, what they like to do in their spare time and how they surf the internet? Consider a focus group to fine tune your campaigns.

    Use technology and integrate the information into your business
    Technology is making customer research a lot simpler and practical. Use a database to capture lifestyle, attitudinal and behavioural information about your customers. Then determine ways to share the research insights throughout your organisation. Use them to develop products, services and messages that relate to the individual needs of your customers.

    Change the way you measure success
    Introduce new ways of measuring the success of marketing campaigns. In particular, measure success not only by the number of customers you have, but by the profitability of those customers. Also, look at whether customers are developing a long-term relationship with your organisation and focus on retaining them. Studies in several industries have shown that the cost of retaining an existing customer is about 10 percent of the cost of acquiring a new customer.

    Align corporate culture with your customer-centric approach
    Align corporate goals and culture with your customer-centric approach. To be truly customer-centric, organisations must be structured around the customer and have a culture that operates in the context of the customer’s world. Be careful that becoming customer-centric doesn’t just enter the vocabulary. Make it real and ensure that the customer’s experience matches your promise.

    Shifting from product marketing to customer-centric marketing makes good business sense and it’s easier than ever before. Increase your customer focus and enjoy the rewards.

    Renee Hancock is a marketing and communications specialist whose experience spans finance, government, education, not-for-profit, telecommunications and law. She has consulted for two of Australia’s most prestigious public relations agencies and now works in-house for a leading financial services organisation.