To say that “customer marketing” is all about the customer seems fairly obvious. But in the business world obvious phrases are frequently hijacked and become jargon for something that really has only a loose connection to the plain meaning of the words. That’s a problem with marketing and advertising in general, but becomes especially tricky when you need a team to execute on a larger strategy. You don’t learn calculus before you learn to add because you need to know the basics in order to use those basics in your own way, and you need everyone to understand what you are talking about if you want to reach your goal.
In a very loose sense when people who work in marketing talk about “customer marketing” they are talking about a process for segregating one group of customers and providing specific messaging to that sub-group based on unique attributes of the group. In science you might call it a controlled experiment but since we are trying to make money we want it to feel a little more goal oriented and less about curiosity.
But I want to break it down a little further and explore the importance of this phrase, “customer marketing” to the overall understanding of what is critical in all of your external business communications: focusing on your customer!
When you talk about marketing, or communicating to your customers you really need to break the message down into three components:
- Understand who you are talking to;
- Think about what they care about; and
- Talk about them.
Unless you are a therapist most people don’t want to spend all of their time listening to stories about someone else. They want to hear about what matters to them. Some of this is basic demographic information and most organizations do this without even thinking. We know if we are selling to men or women, we know what our primary target age groups look like, we probably know the job titles that are most likely to buy and so on. But we forget about numbers 2 and 3 and we end up talking about nothing but ourselves and only saying what we want to say.
If you really want your customer, or your potential customer to pay attention you have to focus the communication on their needs. It isn’t enough that you have the newest, shiniest, fastest widget. A few people may want it just because of that, but most people are going to need to hear about what that new widget is going to do for them. How is it going to solve their problem, how is it going to make their lives easier, how is it going to make their job more enjoyable? Customer marketing is all about making that link between who your customer is and what matters to them, not just about what you have to sell. If you can’t make that link, you shouldn’t be saying anything at all. And, if you want your team to be successful at actually marketing to customers you need the whole team to understand this key link, so that everyone is using the same tone, the same language and focusing on the most important part of the communication: the customer!