This article was originally published on Startups.com on May 9th, 2018.
Marketing and business models might not be the same as they were decades ago. But one thing hasn’t changed: Customers are still any business’s greatest asset. That seems obvious, right?
It should be, but brands can forget that fact all too easily. In the race for the newest shiny things and the largest caches of data, it’s not hard for marketing teams to forget to tailor campaigns toward what customers actually want.
Chatbots are a great example. As sales associates, they can make shopping much more convenient. But as customer service reps, they kind of suck. In fact, when nearly a third of U.S. brands began shifting to automated customer service, the American Customer Satisfaction Index took the steepest dive since the 1990s.
Convenience is great, but chatbots are more convenient for brands than consumers. Likewise, many marketing efforts focus too heavily on creating a “wow” factor. Even if your team can crank out dozens of flashy campaigns, they mean nothing if they don’t promote effective customer engagement.
Forget Glamour — Focus on Engagement
One of the biggest differences between today’s brands and those of yesteryear is that marketing teams are as valuable to revenue as sales teams are. By the time a consumer speaks with a salesperson, she has already completed most of her journey by researching and interacting with marketers.
To convert ads and campaigns into sales, though, marketing teams have to connect with consumers, and that takes a level of personalization you can’t reach without high engagement.
With these few tips, you can reach and maintain that engagement without losing sight of the ultimate goal — making your customers happy.
1. Be an asset, not an advertisement.
Promotion is the essence of marketing, so naturally, you want to promote the best and most exciting aspects of your product. The problem? Every other brand in the same category does, too, and to consumers, all that jargon looks the same.
The common answer to that is to make the customer the hero of your campaign, but for your brand’s sake, it’s equally important to be one one of the hero’s greatest assets.
Consumer-centric marketing means you know your audience members in and out. You know their interests, their greatest needs, the causes they believe in, and so on.
Making them heroes — and yourself an asset — means positioning your product as a way to support their success in at least one of these categories.
For example, if you’re selling technology, focus on how it’s helped other customers succeed rather than explaining all the cool things it can do.
2. Tell stories that matter.
The most effective way to tell this story is to make it one that actually relates to the audience you’re trying to reach. Making consumers the stars of stories they would never actually relate to is as fruitless as only talking about your product.
If you’ve invested in data collection and aggregation technology for your marketing efforts, you can segment your audience by things like interests, income brackets, family size, employment, and hobbies.
This will help you craft customer-focused marketing campaigns that matter to each segment. For instance, if the technology you sell is communication-based, consider whom you’re trying to appeal to.
Large companies might value easy integration, while smaller companies might value lower costs. Therefore, one story should highlight how your technology helped a company streamline communications, while another should tell of a company that saved significantly on communication costs.
3. Educate; don’t condescend.
No one likes being talked down to, but most people appreciate being educated. They’re also more likely to be drawn to people and brands that are like-minded. By sounding more like the customers you want to appeal to, you have a much greater chance of attracting and keeping their interest.
Remember to speak as your customers speak. Utilize your social media channels to engage with and listen to your audience segments. You don’t have to regurgitate their exact words — in fact, you shouldn’t.
But you should pay close attention to the ideas they express, the conversations they find most interesting, and the concerns they share. Then you can tailor messaging about your product or service to blend in with those conversations.
“Remember the customer” sounds like simple advice on the surface. Still, too many businesses fail to communicate effectively with their audience because they’re too busy doing what they do best: solving problems.
With these tips, you can learn to both tackle issues and successfully communicate that to potential customers, putting you way ahead of the pack.
Putting customers at the front of your marketing plan may seem counter-intuitive, but don’t fret. For more info on customer-centric marketing, check out our guide Four Steps to Finding more Qualified Leads.