The customers come first, last, and always in our new marketing world!  We as marketers always claim to be customer centric but I believe that traditional ways of marketing limit our customer centricity.  What do I mean by that?

There is a challenge that has existed in marketing for decades and that is how effective are we really being?  Companies spend billions of dollars on marketing, yet it is estimated in some circles that over 80% of that money is wasted.  It has no effect on the intended customer or prospect.  Even worse, many successful companies fail to respond quickly to new markets as they arise. Why does this happen? 

First, I would assert that in many cases there was a failure to listen to the Voice of Their Customer as the marketplace changed and then react to what that customer wanted.  One very important trend that supports the need to listen to the Voice of the Customer is that customer decision making is increasingly driven by social media.  Customers are out there, talking about your products, solutions, and value proposition in very open and frank ways using social media.  If you then couple this with the notion that customers are doing significantly more research online it becomes critical that we as marketers are there to listen to those social media conversations and that we use what we learn in those conversations to support the research that customers are doing.  That’s Point #1 in this post. 

Second, we often fail as marketers to convert what we know about the customer into effective marketing that illustrates that we are listening to the customer.  This can help us cut through the marketplace noise to reach that intended customer and show that we are taking their input to heart.

So what's the solution?  How has the world changed so that we as marketers can overcome these two problems?  The answer is that technology has evolved to such a point that we can be ruthlessly committed to customer centricity and to ensuring the marketing organization understands the Voice of The Customer and evangelizes that voice across the organization.  And just as importantly to use that Voice of The Customer in your marketing.  So how can we do that?  Here are four ways:

  • Recognize Your Customers Are Already Here:  They are already reaching out to you and telling you what their needs are.  It’s now possible to really hear what the customer wants and to react to that want in almost real-time.  Therefore, you can fine tune your marketing on the move, which opens your message to resonate with larger audiences.
  • Be Creative About How You Find The Voice Of Your Customer:  Online forums and bulletin boards have evolved into blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.  Plug in, listen, and take action.
  • Include The Voice Of The Customer In Your Marketing Efforts:  Your best marketers are your customers.  Take what the customer is telling you and action it.  Get that information back to the teams that build the products.  Use it to show prospects how others are using and enjoying your products.  You need to romance them with their own voice. 
  • Support Marketing With Analytics:  We have the data to make real-time decisions about how effective that marketing is, right now!  Use analytics to crisply define who your customers are and perhaps more importantly, who they aren't.  Are you hitting your target demographic?  Use analytics!

So what do you think? Who are your customers?  Do you understand what they are telling you? Are you reaching your target audience?  Are you reacting across your entire organization to what you are finding out from your customers?  Are you listening?

Let me know what you think!