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After my recent post on marketing with the human factor, I've been thinking that most marketing today is still very product or category orientated - based entirely on what the business has to say or sell... typically it’s very features orientated and competitor obsessed as opposed to what the customer is wanting to find, learn, decide or buy? This isn't so much a criticism but a reality of pressured organisations today where marketers (including digital) are focussed on sales in its most direct sense.
There’s potentially a huge gulf between the marketers and customers which is where customer-centric marketing came in to the fore 10 years or so back and Philip Kotler inspired a new generation of marketers. Customer-centric marketing was born from the information age and where CRM’s over took corporate structures broadcasting information en masse, it typically adds to product based marketing through leveraging customer intelligence:
Now we’re told there’s ‘human-centric marketing’, again inspired by Kotler (author of Marketing 3.0) amongst other gurus such as Seth Godin, Brain Solis and David Meerman-Scott. The thinking here is that technology, specifically Internet based tools, mobile and social technologies, enable us to take customer-centric marketing to a whole new level because marketing is out of date. Until now marketing has viewed people as passive participants in the communications process - recipients or ‘an audience’, and then only measuring success by sales alone. Is this really so relevant in 2011?
"Human-centric marketing is defined by brands that approach engaging their current and prospective customers via advertising and marketing tactics as whole human beings with hearts, minds, and spirits." Philip Kotler
Web 3.0 (or the Semantic Web), is talked as being about the connection of things using Internet-enabled devices and the ability for technology to figure out the real meaning from the interactions and the data between an infinite number of touch points. Whilst technology continues to bring people and brands closer together, Kotler’s also saying that there’s a cultural shift that’s making it happen, people increasingly want to be more connected.
Even if this feels a bit much for most business, we’d have to admit that things are certainly changing? Customers are empowered and increasingly feel in control of the conversation.
With this shift in mind, I’d suggest most often marketers come from a combination of a product based meets customer-centric marketing perspective, with a weighting towards the former? Contrast that to budget standpoint, is it fair to say that 80% of marketing budgets go to some form of outbound advertising or promotion, with that remaining 20% going to engage the customer with some form of (we hope) valuable experience related to inbound marketing.
Marketers can be the people who join the dots, the touch points, with the customer and make every experience with the brand consistent, positive and valuable. To start with the customer in mind from the out-set.
The solution is as simple as it’s difficult for business that are set up to “sell” over “market” something. It's challenging for a company centered around their products (or services) to create relevant and valuable communications. After all the product is the centre of the organisation’s universe, the information coming from the business always revolves around the product. Spin is everywhere including customer research, where the marketing process unintentionally manipulates information to help "position" the product - instead of using that information to solve customer needs and challenges. It’s not easy and yet the mindset of a product-run organisation limits how much you can truly get involved in the customers' lives, all this whilst the world has changed. So, what’s the solution? Here are my 7 ideas:
Can your company, organisation or brand put the customer front and centre to deliver an experience and a value that your competitors would dream about?
By Danyl Bosomworth
Dan helped to co-found Smart Insights in 2010 and acted as Marketing Director until leaving in November 2014 to focus on his other role as Managing Director of First 10 Digital. His experience spans brand development and digital marketing, with roles both agency and client side for nearly 20 years. Creative, passionate and focussed, his goal is on commercial success whilst increasing brand equity through effective integration and remembering that marketing is about real people. Dan's interests and recent experience span digital strategy, social media, and eCRM. You can learn more about Dan's background here Linked In.
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