Posted by Todd Hockenberry ● May 24, 2022
Why You Need a Customer-Focused Marketing Strategy
What is the best way to grow your business and build long-term customer relationships in a tough market?
Develop a consistent customer-focused marketing strategy.
I recently wrote about the mistake I see manufacturing companies make by not connecting marketing with their existing customers. Their focus is on net new customers rather than retaining, engaging, and learning from existing customers.
So how do you develop a customer-focused marketing strategy that works?
Developing a strategy is easier if we start with the goal and work backward to the strategy to get there.
For many companies, a primary goal is improved customer retention rates.
Improved retention rates yield more upselling options.
Improved retention rates drive cross-selling opportunities.
Improved retention rates lower revenue acquisition costs.
Improved retention rates result in more engagement, including reviews, referrals, and partnership opportunities.
Improved retention rates allow you to get to know your customers in a more profound and more valuable way. The better you know them, the easier it is to create enduring value and solve more of their problems.
All of these lead to increased revenue, lifetime value, and defensible differentiation.
A customer-focused marketing strategy that improves retention rates
The first step is to build detailed customer personas. Not the silly cartoon-like surface ones you see on many popular blog sites but a deep understanding of the key people you need to help for them to buy from you. This is rarely one person and usually spans multiple departments. You may have a financial decision-maker, a technical decision-maker, an implementation influencer, and a purchasing roadblock. You need to identify these people, and what it takes to help them make the change you know they should make.
Ideal company identification is next. What at the attributes of the best companies you work with? Which ones yield the most profit over time? Which ones are loyal? Which ones refer you.
A client of ours recently went through this process and found that they did not do well with large or small companies in their field but nailed it with mid-sized companies. Understanding your ideal company enables account-based marketing, customer tiering, and improved prospect qualification.
Value proposition development is the next step of the strategy. What is your unique story? Understanding how your customers see your value allows you to create messages and content that resonate and engage your customers. Do not fall into the trap of thinking your value is your product or service. It rarely is. What do they get from your relationship, the experience of working with you, and the success they see because they chose you?
How you reach your customers are the tactics of a customer-focused marketing strategy. These tactics will change based on the needs and interests of your customers. The strategic pieces tend not to change that rapidly.
Customer-Focused tactics include:
- Email - about half of our clients were not even sending a basic email to customers when we started working with them; this is as low hanging fruit as it gets
- Phone calls - yes, the phone, use it regularly
- Content marketing - tell your story regularly, or they will forget it
- Social media - not all channels but the ones they use, probably YouTube and LinkedIn to start for manufacturing companies but there are very popular people on Instagram and Facebook who talk about industrial topics
- Measure - use your CRM and online data analysis to hone your tactical approach
- Meet with them - yes, get out of the office and spend time face-to-face
- Get them in the same room - yes, get your customers and even some prospects in the same room, real or virtual, to share best practices and ideas with you at the center
Marketing should be gathering insights about buying behavior, emerging needs, satisfaction levels, and success feedback (how successful are clients using your solutions).
Engaging with customers using marketing processes builds awareness, keeps your company top of mind, and establishes your credibility by being interested in understanding them more deeply.
If your marketing team is focused on internal stuff like collateral, graphics, and setting up for the trade show then you are missing out on the biggest opportunity to make an impact.
How not to do customer-focused marketing
I know it is easy to pick on the cable company for not being customer-centric, but this was too good of a lesson not to share.
Last week I received this email from our Internet provider:
Funny, I most certainly did not place an order of any kind, much less order new equipment.
So this is inaccurate in every way.
The email then shows my billing information, which is unchanged from literally years of the same service. Yet, the email states, ‘review below for changes to your billing.’
And….there are no changes.
Using my keen powers of deduction, I believe we are getting a new Internet router. Probably scheduled updating of equipment for people like us, longtime customers with older equipment.
Yet the email makes it sound like I asked for this equipment upgrade which I did not.
What a wasted opportunity to communicate with a longtime loyal customer.
What if the email went like this:
We are so happy you are a longtime customer, and to show we value you and your business, we are proactively sending you a new router! Our goal is to ensure you have the best equipment available because we know how crucial reliable Internet service is to our customers.
Your monthly fees will not change, which we know helps in today’s highly volatile economy.
The new router will come with easy-to-follow instructions to set up a 3-minute process.
How many of the communications you send tell your story and how you are helping your customers solve their problems, reach their goals, and make their world a little better?
Never miss an opportunity to tell your story. Never assume that communication is just superficial and routine. Make them all count: every one.
Make customer-focused marketing a strategic priority, and you will build a solid foundation to thrive in any market.