The value of Customer-Centric Marketing really is like a beast in sheep’s clothing – it’s a little thing that can provide businesses with much more value and impact than they could ever have imagined.
In my article titled Customer-Centric Marketing: Unveiling The Beast, we stripped the “beast” out of its sheep’s clothing and revealed the term and notion of ‘Customer-Centric Marketing’ for what it truly should be – a part of your business from the grassroots onward – not just from the point of sale onwards. In this post I’m going to dig deeper and look at how Customer-Centric Marketing (our friendly Beast!) can be put to work in business. Better yet, I’m going to walk you through 7 Steps that show how you can put the beast to work for your business?
Our imaginary friend for today, Sally, is starting a business selling high-end accessories for women – bags, shoes, jewelry etc.
Sally hasn’t done much research but she knows she has beautiful products and can’t wait to show them off to the world. So, she finds a nice little storefront location in an inexpensive strip mall, sets up shop and hopes the world will come her way.
A few weeks go by and Sally hasn’t seen much business.
She starts to analyze her situation and realizes that the strip mall her store is in has a men’s barber shop, a liquor store, a sports hall of fame store and a laundromat. She’s not seeing the women clientele she had envisioned, and needs, in order to be successful.
Moreover, the area she chose for the store is in a lower-income area, and there’s no kidding even herself – her products are pricey.
Sally also realizes that while she has wonderful products, she hasn’t really looked at how to position her products in the marketplace.
She hasn’t researched her competition and seen who they are selling too.
Sally hasn’t defined her branding either. In fact, she doesn’t yet have a website or a business card.
Sally realizes that she jumped the gun.
Sometimes passion clouds our vision – and that’s normal – it’s happened to the best of us!
This example may remind you of a past experience, or may resonate with the position you’re in right now. That’s okay. In fact, that’s fantastic! Because now you can see why your Target Audience needs to be at the center of your marketing initiatives from the very beginning, and now you can start doing just that.
Let’s help Sally to get her business on the right track and unleash the beast of Customer-Centric Marketing in her favor.
7 Steps To Effective Customer-Centric Marketing
Research your competition before you begin positioning your business in the marketplace.
If you’re not sure of who your competitors are – start with Google.
Run a Google search on keywords that relate to your business.
In Sally’s case, such keywords could be “women’s jewelry”, “luxury women’s shoes,” “luxury women’s accessories,” “high-end women’s accessories,” etc.
Then take a look at the sites that return in the Google search…and I mean really look…
Take note of their name, their slogan, their products, their pricing, their images, their color scheme, their style of communication, their reviews (if available) and, in cases of retail stores, their location.
Jot down your findings (a Google Doc spreadsheet is a great place to store your competitive analysis so you can easily refer to it when needed…like when you get to Step 2!)
Identify a niche market/angle for your business.
Using your findings from Step 1, come to a synopsis about each of your competitors positioning in the marketplace.
This synopsis should include three key points:
- The specific type of services or products offered.
- The generalized type of customer being targeted.
- The style of communication used to showcase, advertise and sell their services or products.
Once you have a good understanding of what your competition offers, the type of customer they are offering their products or services too, and the way in which they are presenting their business, you can start looking for gaps.
In Sally’s case there are a number of renowned brand-name accessory stores for women, but perhaps there are only a few that stock entirely local products, or products made entirely by women, for example.
Once you have identified a gap in the market, see if your business vision supports filling that gap (it’s important that you truly believe in what you do – customers can tell!)
Perhaps Sally started her women’s accessory store because she believes in the beauty of women on the inside and out, and, let’s say she would take even more pride in her products if they were all made by women. By adopting that business approach, Sally would be supporting women in business, and she’d be fulfilling her dream of making women feel beautiful.
Identify your niche and showcase it. When your vision aligns with opportunity you have a golden nugget.
Understand your Target Audience.
Without clearly understanding your Target Audience your marketing could be entirely off course, regardless of how awesome your products or services are.
Think about Sally’s mistake. She chose a retail store location that was completely unsuited to her clientele and the result was lackluster sales. It’s not that her product was bad, it’s just that she did not position her product correctly for her Target Audience.
If you’re selling high-end jewelry, ensure that your products (and everything about your business) looks luxurious. That applies to your store-front, and it’s location as well. Make sure you pick a location where your Target Audience would feel comfortable frequenting, and make sure that the environment, atmosphere and interior are welcoming to your ideal clientele.
If you own a sports bar and you’re trying to get customers to come and watch football games, make sure you have plenty of well placed TVs with unobstructed views, and some enticing game-day specials.
If you run a day spa promoting relaxation and you want your customers to feel like they can come to you for a much needed escape from the stress of day-to-day life, make sure that you have an atmosphere that supports that.
Understanding your Target Audience is about making your customer feel comfortable.
Take the time to get to know who your Target Audience is. Ask yourself who would most likely be interested in your products or services, why they would like your products and services and what they would expect from your products and services.
Once you identify who your typical customer would most likely be, you can start to cater your marketing directly to (and for) them.
Strategically position your business and branding.
By the time you arrive at Step 4, you should have a great idea of what your competitors are doing, what the best business opportunities within your industry are, and what type of customer would most likely purchase your products or services.
Using that wealth of information, you can now begin to position your business effectively and brand it appropriately.
To position your business effectively, capitalize on the gaps you identified in Step 2.
For example, Sally realized that her vision to empower women links closely with her products, so she’s going to market her business as such, and use a “Jewelry By Women, For Women” approach.
Once you have a clear idea of your business positioning, your branding should both support that positioning and appeal to your Target Audience.
Sally is going to use a scripted feminine font for her logo, a touch of pink and a bold splash of black to represent the power she believes all women have. She’s carrying this same color scheme through into her new retail store, onto her website, onto her business cards and into her Pinterest posts. You get the picture!
Take the time to choose branding that reinforces your business’ vision and that’s relatable to your Target Audience. Then document your decisions and begin implementing your branding in everything you do.
Remember that brands are remembered because of their consistency.
Live your positioning and carry your branding through consistently.
Nothing annoys a customer more than false promises.
Imagine that you sign up for a candlelit yoga class to unwind after a busy week of work, only to discover that the receptionist at the yoga studio plays blaring rap music through her laptop speakers and disrupts the entire class.
Or imagine that you are trying the newest Fast-Food restaurant where “hunger is satisfied in less than 5 minutes,” according to their marketing slogan, but you wait over 45 minutes for your food.
As Warren Buffet stated:
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”
He then went on to add, “If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Wise words!
Pay very close attention to what and how your business communicates.
Do your store-front signs, your product catalogs and your business cards embody your positioning and branding?
Is your website a good representation of your products or services?
Does your social media messaging align with your positioning and branding?
Is your tone of conversation welcoming to your Target Audience?
Is your business environment comfortable for your Target Audience?
Are you practicing what you’re promising?
By looking objectively at your business, you can identify areas in which you may not currently be consistent with your branding…and then you can get to work correcting them.
Listen to your customers and ask for their feedback.
Customer feedback is the biggest blessing, even when it’s negative.
When you get genuine feedback from customers within your Target Audience, it’s as good as gold…but only if you truly listen.
Become a feedback fanatic and invite customers to share their suggestions, opinions and experiences.
The more you learn from your Target Audience, the better you can cater to their needs and the more loyal they will become to your business.
Adjust your marketing based on your Target Audience’s response.
Paying close attention to customer response and engagement is the absolute best way to optimize your business’ positioning, branding and marketing campaigns.
When a customer complains, and they are a someone who fits the category of your Target Audience (and are therefore providing you with very valuable feedback), take the time to analyze why they complained. Ask yourself what you can do to prevent similar complaints in the future and work to make improvements that cater to your audience’s needs.
When someone in your Target Audience provides a compliment or engages with a social media post, don’t just smile and move on, look deeper and find out what made them so happy. Then work to replicate that more in the future.
Use Google Analytics and Facebook and Twitter Insights to help you learn which types of communications your customers are most responsive to, and which types of communications are least successful.
Start thinking of every interaction as a learning experience to enable you to tweak your positioning, branding and marketing to be more and more effective.
And, when you learn things, do let you customers know the adjustments you’ve made based on their feedback and ask them for more ideas. The more you show your customers that you care, the more they will engage, and then the more you can learn. So start cultivating this beautiful and beneficial cycle of customer-centric success!
Just like our fictitious character, Sally, you too can use these 7 Steps to identify opportunities for your business, learn how to cater your business to your Target Audience and begin reaping the powerful (and profitable) benefits of Customer-Centric Marketing.
“When you’re trying to make an important decision…ask yourself: If the customer were here,…
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Learn More about the power of Customer-Centric Marketing HERE.
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How have your customers helped you to optimize your business? I’d love to hear your own experiences in the comments section below!