Are your customers at the heart of your marketing strategy or are you still using the old way of thinking when it comes to making a sale?

A recent study by IBM has found that it is no longer effective to only interact with your customers just enough to get them into the front door. Instead, marketers really need to cater to their customers throughout the entire process.

The study found that due to the evolution of technology and the emergence of mobile e-commerce, customers are really looking for a tailored and personalised experience from the start and all the way to the finish.

This means that it is no longer good enough to just have customer acquisition investments at the top of your sales funnel, instead they need to feature throughout.

This new shift in marketing has already started to take shape in the modern world, but is your company prepared for more of a consumer-centric marketing strategy?

Shifting to a consumer-centric marketing strategy is really about shifting your intentions away from the product and the sales and into the minds of the consumers themselves.

While this may not seem like one of the most effective strategies at first, trends are really showing that companies that fail to put their consumers in the front and center position will struggle to make sales, especially as technology evolves.

Consumers have become weary of old style marketing campaigns and as Kevin Akeroyd, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Oracle Marketing Cloud states-“We hammer our customers and prospects with more, more, more” which is leading to ad blindness and a lack of attention.

Gerry McGovern also adds-

“The customer isn’t king anymore; the customer is the dictator. Too much of marketing has always been about coming up with clever ways to trick the consumer. But increasingly customers are becoming immune to classical marketing tricks.”

With everything at our finger tips at the click of a button, competition is high and consumers are savvier than ever due to social proof and other resources that allow them to research and review your products and services. In turn, this has created a desperate need for marketers to focus on nurturing the customer relationship, especially when it comes to marketing to millennials.

Nurturing this relationship includes creating an experience from the minute your customers walk through the door or click on your website, to the minute the leave, regardless if they have purchased anything or not. And thinking more about customer loyalty and the lifetime value of the customer.

So, what exactly does a consumer-centric marketing strategy involve?

Well, put simply a consumer centric strategy requires you to move your customers into the front and center of all your decisions.

“Being customer focused means offering a consistently great and relevant experience. It is an overarching principle that basically urges companies to treat their customers right.”- Dr. Peter Fader.

This includes focusing on:

  • Creating a personal experience that feels ‘tailored’
  • Creating an experience for your customers from start to finish
  • Offering incentives and other bonuses to make your customers feel valued
  • Being present on social platforms and offering insights
  • Offering different content types that speak to your consumers and offer advice
  • Being adaptable to different devices, channels and networks
  • Shifting marketing budgets to focus on customer acquisitions
  • The intention and motivation of your target audience
  • Listening and responding to consumer feedback and requests
  • Focusing on the right customers instead of catering to the masses
  • Concentrating on the Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
  • Getting out there and meeting your customers (networking)

While some of these focuses will differ depending on your business model, nurturing the one-on-one relationship is really the only way to enter into this new consumer centred shift in marketing.

In order to achieve this, you must work on:

Getting to Know Your Demographic: Collecting data on your most engaged audiences will definitely help you to understand what your customers are really looking for and what they need. Web analytics, social data and surveys are all great tools to help you develop a clear and strong picture about how and why your customers choose to buy. There are also numerous studies online about consumer behaviour that you can also take advantage of.

Changing Your Thinking: Instead of focusing your marketing strategies on one solid end result, open up your perspective to include your customers journey from start to finish. This especially applies to how you to choose to approach any issues or shortcomings in your marketing strategies.

Getting Social: One of the best ways to build a relationship with your consumers is to be active on social media. This involves engaging in your community, responding to comments, staying up to date with recent trends and understanding what sites your demographic frequents.

Unifying Your Marketing: Because consumers frequent so many different channels it is imperative that your company has a presence on the ones that are important to your demographic. This includes creating a wide variety of content, promotions, ads, social outreaches etc.

Thinking Long Term: Consumer-centric marketing is really about nurturing the long term rather than striving for the short term. Having consumers that love your brand and never purchase can be ten times more powerful than someone who just purchases one time, as word of mouth can definitely travel and having fans can definitely pay off in surprising ways.

The real motive behind consumer-centric marketing is to cut through all the ‘digital clutter’ in order to allow your consumers the opportunity to not only hear your message but stay attentive to your message.

This really involves five main tactical process which you can tailor and expand in order to suit the individual needs of your business.

Tactical Processes for Moving Into a Consumer-Centric Marketing Strategy

1. Understanding Buyers Personas

Do you ever pay attention to those ‘one-size-fits-all’ mass email campaigns? Like most people, you probably flag them as spam and never think twice about it.

A much more effective strategy however, is to cater your email to a particular persona. This allows you to see a mental picture of who you are talking to in order to craft an email with the right tone and information.

Select 1 to 3 of your main consumer personas and then work on writing a tailored email. Test out the different email types to see if they help you to reach your customers on a whole new level.

2. Cross Channel Marketing 

We briefly mentioned this before, but advertising or marketing across a variety of channels such as mobile, email and social networks allows you to reach your audience in different ways.

Beyond this however, having a unified marketing strategy also helps you to break out of the one-track, silo strategy and into more of a journey.

Silo marketing stands alone, whereas consumer-centric marketing is more about bringing every thing together for a holistic portrait, and this is where we are shifting to.

3. Offer More Value Than Expected

Offering your consumers value the moment they step through your door is the best way to build a relationship. This includes offering valuable content, free ebooks, seminars and resources. This not only helps to build a target audience but it also helps to create a long term consumer relationship.

Remember, having long term relationships with your consumers to the point where they become brand advocates is far more valuable than just a ‘one hit wonder’.

4. Manage Your Database

Correctly storing and formatting consumer data is crucial to your business, this also includes the storing of prospects, leads and other contacts. Having a good customer acquisition database can also help you to keep all of this organised and can more efficiently help you create a personalised experience with all your marketing campaigns.

5. Listening to Customer Feedback 

Do you collect customer feedback? Understanding the thoughts and feelings of your consumers throughout their experience with you is crucial to creating an experience of value and trust. Following through on customer feedback is also a great way to bring you customers to the forefront of your business model.

Creating a consumer focused marketing strategy is really about putting the values and needs of your clients first before anything else. This helps to build trust, support and long term loyalty from your customers and helps to set your brand apart from the competition.

If you are looking to make the switch, here is a checklist that can help you to get started:

  • Do you have an understanding of your consumers needs, wants and desires?
  • Are you targeting the right type of customers that actually need your product?
  • Have you created a consumer driven experience from start to finish?
  • Are you engaging with your audience on social media?
  • Are you targeting your content based on the different buying personas of your demographic?
  • Are you creating a community around you brand and standing true to your values?
  • Are you collecting relevant data to help you personalise your sales experience?
  • Have you spread your customer acquisition budget evenly across your sales funnel?
  • Are you getting face to face with consumers?
  • Does your content offer high value to your consumers without the need to sell?
  • Is your content easy to search and relevant to your demographic?
  • Are you viewed as an expert or leader in your field?

Switching your marketing to be more consumer focused is an excellent way to stay ahead of the competition, build life long fans and customer loyalty.

Especially with the increasing competition and sheer volume of information available now online, offering a consumer- centered approach can really help your business to stand out from the crowd and develop a strong following.

Are you going to make the switch?