This informal CPD article Pin the tail on the donkey was provided Sara Marshall, Founder & Lead Consultant at The Strategy Place, internationally proven in designing, leading and delivering world-class, profitable customer strategies.
I was working with a new client last week and they described their customer strategy as “the marketing equivalent of pin the tail on the donkey. We’re just spinning around, blindfold, trying to hit the right spot”. What a fantastically succinct way of putting things. But, this is not unusual. So many businesses know they need to get better at marketing, but don’t know how.
Building an effective customer marketing approach
There are some really simple steps to building an effective customer marketing approach, but it does rely on an appetite for rigour and a willingness to do things right in order to remove the metaphorical blindfold.
Ask yourself this question “how can you get more customers or get more from your existing customers, if you don’t understand what they want and what their options are?” This is why insight and a solid factbase is at the heart of a great marketing strategy. Here are some headlines:
Make sure your factbase is exactly that, based on fact and not anecdote. A really good understanding of what your customers think, want and do is a great starting point. There are loads of secondary data sources online, but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you may need to think about your research approach. Particularly when it comes to understanding customer attitudes and behaviours.
Who are your competitors and how do they compare?
But customers don’t exist in a vacuum, so it’s necessary to also get a good grasp of what’s going on in the broader market: Who are your competitors and how do they compare? What’s going on at a macro level that might impact your customers? What are the specific micro market dynamics that you need to take into consideration?
And then a long hard, dispassionate look at yourself (well, your business). Because to get to a sustainably advantaged customer approach, you’re going to need to honestly pinpoint where your business has competitive advantage and where there’s a need for improvement. To win the hearts and minds of customers, you must be different and/or better than the competition.
Understand the value in your market
Once you’ve got that bit sorted, it’s a good idea to understand where the value is in your market. It’s usual for a disproportionately large amount of revenue to come from a small group of customers. Work this bit out. You’ll need to focus on your most valuable customers and make sure you keep them. You can also use this understanding to try and get new customers that are likely to replicate the amount of value they bring to your business. And then of course, you’ll need to work out if any of your customers actually take value away. This may sound odd, but not all customers are created equal, and the cost to serve, or provide a product may not always actually be profitable.
So now you’ve got your customer, competitor and market understanding nailed and your value analysis sorted, you can start to build strategies based on competitive advantage. You’ll know what your customers want, how you can deliver it better than the alternatives and what to say to really resonate.
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