I want to tackle "customer-centric marketing" first because it’s the phrase that got me thinking about marketing buzzwords in the first place. Customer centric marketing was the theme of the Forrester Marketing Forum last month. Days later, there it was again, the subject of an airline exec’s welcome letter in the front of the Northwest Airlines in-flight magazine. And then this week, the drive for customer-centricity featured prominently in the presentations of three of the four finalists for our "customer success award."
At no point have I heard an exasperated cry of "enough!" Quite the opposite; our customers seek any help and advice we can provide. Customer-centric marketing has some buzz left in it. I have a few notions why:
- It’s difficult. As the title of blog thread reads, it’s easy to say but hard to do. Very hard.
- There’s no alternative. The underlying marketing mega-trends driving it (competition, channel proliferation/fragmentation, consumer empowerment, and ad saturation) continue to grow.
- We didn’t really mean it before. Putting the customer first was initially a branding strategy, a tag line like "Have it Your Way." Then it graduated to lip-service since no company wants to admit being self-centered rather than focused on the customer, though the "shareholder value" mantra comes close.
- It’s self-serving. As Marketing usually represents "the voice of the customer," customer-centricity elevates our importance.
- It works. Many of the companies wiping the floor with the competition these days visibly and successfully adopted customer-centric strategies.
Next, we’ll tackle the "hard to do" aspect of customer-centric marketing by describing some common characteristics of Unica customers that have made it happen.