Imagine you're on vacation and drive through a new city to get some dinner. How do you decide where to go?
Ten years ago, you may have pulled in to the first place you saw and hoped it was good. But that’s no longer your only option. Now, you can read what someone thought about the atmosphere last September or hear how another customer liked her burger last week. You can scan the area to see what other restaurants are nearby or find a specific cuisine you’re craving.
You have more than enough information at your fingertips to make a well-informed decision – all thanks to smartphones and the internet.
With so much information available, companies have to do more than just offer good products and services – they have to court their customers.
Companies must make sure customers have the best experience at every stage of their buyer (and customer) journey. And this means a change in how we market.
Coming from an in-house marketing team at a company, I’ve seen the difference that customer-obsessed marketing makes across every part of the business. And whether you do marketing in-house or use a digital marketing agency, you can notice the difference, too.
Let’s take a look at what customer-obsessed marketing is and why it matters. Then, we’ll dive into what it takes to start changing the mindset at your company.
What Is Customer-Obsessed Marketing?
Customer-obsessed marketing is a strategy that puts customers at the center of every decision you make — from how you sell and create content to the number of emails you send and the brand experience you offer.
We live in the age of information and the age of the customer, which means the buying power is in the hands of the consumer.
Consumers have the information to make a well-informed decision before even interacting with your company or sales team, which makes customer-obsessed marketing all the more important for a variety of reasons:
- Customer obsession creates brand loyalty. Returning customers can become a great source of revenue for your company. Why not ensure that your existing customers love your products and services so much that they continue to pay you for them? Customers know when you are obsessed with them because of the experience it creates, which keeps them coming back.
- Customer obsession builds word-of-mouth marketing, which is one of the most effective kinds of marketing. People talk about the things they love and the great experiences they had. For example, I once went to a restaurant where we told our server it took longer to make our food than we liked, so the restaurant gave us free dessert. I told at least 10 people that story, recommending the restaurant because of the great service and amazing experience I had there. Whether your “word-of-mouth” comes from face-to-face referrals or customer reviews online, it’s important to remember that people trust other people’s opinions. So, it’s important to care about the experience every customer has.
- Customer obsession builds brand advocates. You can even take it one step further than word-of-mouth marketing — create brand advocates. Consider starting a referral program to help customers share the love or empower them to generate fresh content for your business. Having your customers speak for you will encourage others to do business with you — use case studies, testimonials, or even let them write for you. Remember, people often trust other customers more than they trust your business.
How Do You Craft a Customer-Obsessed Marketing Strategy?
Creating a customer-obsessed marketing strategy begins with a shift in mindset.
You’ve probably never heard companies flat-out say they don't care about their customers. But there is a tangible difference between saying you care about your customers and letting them drive your business decisions – just like there is a difference between people who say they value exercise and then sit on their couch after work and the people who actually go to the gym every day.
As you plan your strategy, make sure your focus is in the right place. Think, “What do our customers care about?”
Even assign someone as the designated “customer advocate.” Give him or her the task of reminding your entire team how the customer thinks, how they operate, and what they care about. Consider choosing someone who was once your customer and is now part of your team.
The responsibility for the customer experience rests on more than your support or customer service team. It needs to be at the heart of every team and every department—more than just a slogan you say.
Know Your Customers
To be obsessed with your customers, you have to know who they are beyond just basic knowledge. You have to really know them, potentially better than they know themselves. Here are some good ways to learn more about your customers.
- Do the research. While you might think you know your customers, that isn’t enough. You need to back those ideas with research. Surveys, user interviews, and interviews with the sales team can give you a true idea of who your customers are and what they want. This matters too much to make assumptions.
- Craft buyer personas. Once you’ve done the research, let your imagination (backed by data) work, and build buyer personas. Buyer personas are characters you make up, based on what you know about your ideal customers.
They are important in helping you contextualize your customers and build content specifically for them. Buyer personas help everyone in your organization stay on the same page — with the customer front and center.
- Keep talking to human beings. Once you’ve done the research and crafted buyer personas, you need to continually refine them. People are constantly changing, and your customers will, too. Continue the conversation, and make sure interacting with your customers is something you prioritize, no matter your role.
Build Content That's Helpful
A customer-obsessed marketing strategy helps you make decisions about the content your company needs to create. It allows you to think beyond the basics such as “What will sell our products?" and forces you to start thinking about questions like "What do our customers want to learn?"
Customers may be seeking more information about your product, or they may be looking for tips from an expert in your industry — and you have the authority to teach them.
Don’t make your content decisions based on what sounds right to you as a member of the marketing team. Build a strategy catered to your customers.
Focus on the Customers for the Long-Haul
The initial investment in a customer-obsessed strategy might seem like a lot, but the benefits will show in both the short- and long-term. At my company, we’ve seen this first-hand, and we know we’re not alone.
A customer-obsessed marketing strategy is something that’s built for the long-run, and you’re sure to benefit from focusing on those you serve.
About the Author
Ali Roth is the content strategist for Simple Strat, the marketing agency for companies that are serious about growth. She loves words, data, and research—which makes content marketing her niche. She began her career working in marketing at a high-growth sports tech company. She uses that knowledge to craft innovative strategies for clients and create content that motivates and inspires. A Midwest girl all her life, she's lived in most of the states that no one cares about but loves corn, football, and fall.