When was the last time a business fully addressed your wants and needs as a customer? For me, it was around the holidays, while searching for the perfect gift to give a friend who is a huge fan of the video game series "The Legend of Zelda."
My online search for the right gift led me to STL Ocarina, a company that sells ocarinas — the musical wind instruments that have been around for thousands of years and a staple item in the Legend of Zelda series. Clearly, the company knew many of its customers were like me — either fans of the games or shopping for fans of the games — so it made finding Zelda-themed ocarinas on its website simple.
Just hover over the tab that says "Our Ocarinas," and the first category to pop up under the tab says "For Legend of Zelda Fans." From there, I was taken to a page displaying their Zelda-themed ocarinas and the option to include a songbook of the game’s music.
After purchasing the ocarina and songbook, I remembered my friend doesn’t know how to play the ocarina and the songbook may not have tips for beginners. Luckily, STL Ocarina’s confirmation email included a YouTube instructional video and links to online resources that will help him get started.
STL Ocarina serves as a great example of what customer-centric marketing looks like. During the few minutes I was on the company’s website, every touchpoint of my buyer journey was valuable, from landing on the website to browsing for the right gift to making a purchase.
Months later, I’m still recommending the website to friends who want Legend of Zelda merchandise or are simply looking for a new hobby to pick up.
In order for your company to turn customers into advocates, the same way I advocate for STL Ocarina, it’s important to add value to every part of the customer’s journey and to address their needs. A way to accomplish this is to create a solid customer-centric marketing strategy.
What is customer-centric marketing?
Customer-centric marketing is the practice of prioritizing the customers’ needs and interests in every interaction with your business, such as delivery, promotion, advertising, and more.
Customer-centric marketing ensures your customers are satisfied with their products or service enough to remain loyal and to tell others to become customers as well. To implement customer-centric marketing for your business, first ask yourself:
- How are customers connecting with your business? Is it via social media, the website, email, phone, or something else?
- Is there value being offered in each of these channels?
- What can be done to improve the customer’s experience at every touchpoint?
Customer-Centric Marketing Examples
Many companies have taken a customer-centric approach to their marketing strategy and have achieved great success. These companies include:
One of the most well-known successful customer-centric marketing strategies comes from Starbucks with its Starbucks Reward Loyalty Program. This program offers a variety of perks, including exclusive discounts, free refills on brewed coffee, and free drinks for customers on their birthday. However, one of the program’s standout services is that it gives customers the ability to order and pay ahead of arriving at the restaurant.
This means customers who are pressed for time can schedule their items for pickup, thus avoiding long lines and inconsistent wait times.
According to Forbes, Starbucks attributed 40% of its total sales in 2019 to its rewards program. Forbes also reported users of the Loyalty Program’s app were 5.6 times more likely to visit a Starbucks every day.
Luxury department store chain Nordstrom sought to improve its service and product discovery by creating a more streamlined and personalized shopping experience. The company achieved this by implementing its Nordstrom Analytical Platform. The platform consists of AI models that handle tasks such as inventory control and fulfillment, and routes orders to the nearest store.
The company also created fashion maps in which the AI uses natural language conversations, combined with images and information gathered from social media to predict customer preferences. Thanks to AI, the Nordstrom Analytical Platform offers personalized products and selections for customers via its Looks feature, storyboards, and more.
Back in 2019, Bacardi wanted to get potential customers in the UK and Germany excited about the brand’s new single-malt whiskies. Understanding drinkers in that demographic often have a taste for luxury, Bacardi teamed up with Amazon to create a live whisky tasting customers can enjoy from the comfort of their home.
The spirits company created its Single Malt Discovery Collection, which was made up of three whiskies exclusively for tasting. Customers in the UK and Germany could purchase the collection from Amazon and, in turn, receive access to the live streamed tasting. During the live stream, customers were able to ask questions to the host via a custom landing page on Amazon. More than 500 questions were asked and Bacardi saw an increase in sales on Amazon.
Tips for Creating a Strong Customer Centric Marketing Strategy
Crafting a customer-centric marketing strategy for the first time can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to get started:
1. Get Leadership Involved
To help ensure the success of any new strategy, it’s important to get the support and enthusiasm of senior leadership. If senior leaders prioritize customers at every channel and interaction, it will encourage others in the organization to do the same. You can get leadership on board by hosting regularly scheduled meetings to educate leadership on customer-centric marketing, discuss upcoming campaigns, and brainstorm creative ways to promote the brand.
2. Learn About Your Customers
Gain a better understanding of your customers by doing some of the following:
- Conduct surveys asking customers about the quality of the service/product, the company’s strong points, where it can improve, and how they most interact with the brand.
- Have one-on-one interviews with current and former customers asking about their experience with the company, why they choose to remain loyal, or why they left. You can also ask former customers what changes would have made them stay.
- Use data gathered from analytics tools to track customer behavior.
- Monitor social media and/or enable Google Alerts so that you can see what people are saying about your business online. For example, if customers often take to Twitter to complain about how difficult it is to navigate your website, that could be a sign to update the site. You can also gauge the type of content your customers like to see on social media. Perhaps on TikTok you notice followers enjoy behind-the-scenes videos, while customers on Twitter enjoy having their questions answered or reading important announcements.
- Read through customer emails and monitor calls to see how customers are interacting with your company.
3. Add Value to Every Customer Interaction
Customers, or potential customers, can be at any stage of their journey with your company, which is why it’s important to create appeal at every touchpoint. Whether they interact with your organization via social media, are calling to get help with a problem, or they are at the end stage of purchasing a product/service, every part of the buyer’s cycle should spark engagement and joy.
Nordstrom offering personalized products/services based on the customer’s behavior, and Starbucks creating a system that allows customers to get their needs met quickly and efficiently are great examples of adding value at different customer interactions. Same can be said for Bacardi’s virtual, at-home whisky tasting. The one thing that all of these actions have in common is that they make the customer experience fun, engaging, and simple.
The Value of Customer-Centric Marketing
As technology continues to change the way people interact with brands and businesses, the customer journey has become less linear. To keep up with the ever-evolving journey, companies must adopt a customer centric marketing approach to build stronger relationships that will turn your customers into some of its strongest advocates.