In a hyper-digital age, we find ourselves spending more hours online than we probably want. Binging Netflix shows, endless video chats with close family, colleagues, and clients. We’re buying more household and novelty items online to help pass the time. What does all this added screen time mean for businesses? Well, it’s loud out there. Turning up your marketing volume will help if your message is dialled and satisfies your customer’s needs.
If your messaging doesn’t land new clients, it’s time to get back to your roots. To dig for the real heart and soul behind why you built your company. Get back to that fiery hustle that once drove you to burn the midnight oil while you were in the thick of crushing your operational plans (ok, let’s be honest, many of you never left – we’re right there with you). We all have a choice to stick with the status quo or to shift our energy into a more customer-centric company. Yes, this will require a level of transformation, but let’s face it: customers crave more substance from modern companies, and they certainly won’t subscribe to a broken record of your products and services.
People do business with people and brands they like. So how do you ensure your brand and people strike a chord with your prospects while simultaneously retaining your favourite clients? How do you create an emotional connection?
It’s simple, invest in getting to know your customers (and future customers)
Taking a customer-centric approach could be the catalyst for setting yourself apart from the pack. Don’t worry. Many of your competitors aren’t doing a great job of this, so it may not be difficult to stand out. Ask yourself the following questions without sugar-coating your responses:
- Have you ever sent out a client feedback survey?
- Do you know what clients think about your client experience and services?
- Are you confident that you’re properly communicating with customers and prospects?
- When, where and how do they want to communicate?
- Do you know why customers pick your business?
- Have you customized your approach to meet expectations?
- Do you have a customer relationship management (CRM) system where you can see their preferences?
- Have you reversed engineered customer insights back into your marketing strategy?
Creating a customer-first company approach is a winning strategy. It doesn’t require massive dollars or a robust project team. It does require a commitment to building a culture of curiosity. Once you know your customer inside and out you need to assess whether your marketing addresses their needs.
Making the customers the hero in their story
People selfishly want to know how your business can make them better in their careers or improve their business (B2B).
B2B buyers have many motivators:
- how smart will they look to their peers
- how much time and money they will save their company
- how much more efficient will they become
- how their decision will singlehandedly increase profit
- how this proves why they deserve that next promotion, etc.
Essentially, they require a story where they see themselves overcoming their challenges and becoming the hero. Your company acts as a guide that helps them overcome their problems. Your brand isn’t the hero. It’s time to step out of the limelight and show your customer how they survive and thrive in life by getting what they want. That’s how our psyche works.
We all have an opportunity to clarify our messaging and positions in the market to ensure it aligns with our buyers’ behaviours and needs. No one will listen to you if your message isn’t clear and doesn’t remove a barrier to success.
You can’t be all things to all people, becoming clear on the problem you solve, and the audiences you serve will make your message more digestible and shareable. Many companies are even taking this a step further and becoming niche companies. Think of this as bait fishing vs. the wide net fishing approach. One is highly selective, and the other is vast. With the net method, you’ll end up pulling up lobsters, snapper, blue marlin, and perhaps a few bottom feeders. As you would imagine, the targeted hook and bait couldn’t possibly attract all of these fish. Instead, it will be very appealing to one, or perhaps another close variety may consider taking a bite. The niche approach will reel in more of the ideal catch (customer).
It takes a level of business maturity to narrow your focus. Narrowing your scope allows you to focus on becoming the best at what you do and better align with your customer. You need an internal commitment to furthering your expertise within an industry or focus area. Often selecting a niche is a decision that’s reflected in the business strategy. Marketing can also uncover these opportunities from your data (database, analytics, and advertising tools) paired with market research. Your marketing team can help test the market with calculated paid campaigns to validate your assumptions and tell you if it’s worth investing more.
Creating relationship-driven partnerships and trust
Connecting with customers and prospects takes a conscious effort both in-person and online. To give them what they want, you need to ask lots of questions. Sales and marketing need to be fully aligned and sharing everyday client stories, feedback, wins and frustrations.
We live in a time where people trust people more than they trust logos, so it’s crucial to enable your full company to represent the brand accurately. Leverage your people as brand ambassadors. Have them focused on building their network and helping other community members. Not only does it expand your brand reach and connections, but it also helps to humanize the brand and allow for 1:1 relationships.
Ensuring clients and prospects are engaged in your brand takes thoughtful planning, implementation and testing. When something doesn’t stick, you need to iterate quickly. Being fearless with testing is the ultimate way to know for sure. Let your data and revenue speak to how it resonated with them.
Delivering an unforgettable buyer and customer journey
“80% of B2B buying decisions are based on a buyer’s direct or indirect customer experience, and only 20% is based on the price or the actual offering.” (CMO, 2019)
A great place to start is assessing your buyer journey (pre-purchase) and the customer journey (after purchase). Think through what a prospect experiences from the time they become aware of their need to the time they become an advocate of your business. Use real-life examples of your actual clients to understand what the end-to-end experience felt like. Then overlay additional digital touch-points like social media, content downloads, emails, ongoing communication, and more to gain a full picture. Once you have a clear understanding of each phase and what emotion the person felt, you can better assess your gaps. These gaps provide an opportunity to rethink both your internal processes and your client experience.
Putting your customer above everything else
Becoming a customer-driven company is a mindset that’s modelled and set from the top. If you commit to being customer-obsessed, the financial reward will be endless. The stories and data need to flow across cross-functional teams like leadership, sales, marketing, and product teams (if you have a product). You will find yourself referring back to what does the customer want throughout many of your daily discussions. You will see the focus transform from “What’s our profit this quarter?” to “How are we delivering real value to clients?” Shifting from a short-term view to a long-term strategy that safeguards the company’s longevity.
Buyers will ensure their due diligence when selecting partners, especially when budget cuts are prevalent, and the same results are expected. According to a 2018 report from Accenture, “Most B2B buyers are already 57% of the way through the buying process before the first meeting with a representative.” So how are you showing up online? How are you ensuring the best experience, and how are you differentiated when being compared to 3+ competitors in the consideration phase? The time has come to reimagine your buyer and customer experience to ensure your business thrives.