Thursday, June 8, 2017

Did you ever talk to people and realize minutes into the conversation that they weren't even listening? Ever feel alone, confused, and abandoned? Well, that’s what customers experience when businesses focus on everything else but them. 

Nearly every brand will tell you that customers are always right and that they cater to their audience. But very few brands are following this 100 percent of the time. The good news is that customer-focused marketing is easy to implement and it not only is valuable for your customers, but it will also strengthen your brand and open the door for more profits. Let’s take a look at how you can supercharge your small business marketing by adopting a customer-focused approach.

What Is Customer-Centric Marketing?

Customer-centric marketing is simply a holistic company mindset that places the focus solely on the customer. This type of marketing is not new, but it has escalated with the introduction of the internet.

The internet has brought with it a strong power, a force that has connected people across the world and given them the ability to interact anywhere and at any time. Because of this, today’s consumer environment has shifted from brand-focused to customer-focused. Customers now have the ability to reach out to brands, talk to them, communicate, and show their face—and they want to be heard and be heard loudly. 

What are consumers really looking for? Beyond the sales and great products, they want to connect. They want to feel like they can befriend your brand and that you will hear and respond to them long after the business transaction has taken place. 

The great news is that by implementing a customer-centric marketing focus, it is a win-win for both you and your customers. If your customers trust you, they will not only come back to buy more from you, but they will spread the news of how awesome you are to more potential customers. And with 84% of people trusting family and friends for recommendations over brand advertisements, this word-of-mouth dynamic can become a wealthy stream of income for your small business. 

With platforms like Instagram and Facebook, sharing recommendations is easy and exciting for consumers. Give them a reason to share. Create a following of loyal brand ambassadors who will sell your products for you because they are excited about your brand. The only way to accomplish this is to adopt customer-centric marketing.

How to Get More Customer-Focused

More than flashy UVPs and elevator pitches, focus your efforts by trying to get into the minds of consumers to figure out what they are looking for. What are their deep needs? How can you promote lasting connections with these people? How do you engage your audience more? 

More than marketing metrics and customer service

Yes, clicks, retweets, and likes measure engagement, but they aren’t a sole determinant of whether or not you are fully focusing on your customers. And, just because you tell your customer service team to be nice to your customers doesn’t mean you are fully customer-centric as well. A customer-centric mindset must touch every part of your small business to be fully effective.

Put it into practice 

Whenever you approach a new small business marketing strategy, product idea, platform introduction, or any new venture, think to yourself, “Are we moving forward with our customers in mind?” Asking yourself this question before you create anything new will ensure you are keeping your focus in the right direction. After a while, this mindset will become commonplace. 

Dive deep into the data 

Do you really know your customers? The more you know about your customers, the greater you will understand their wants and needs. What you are looking for here is more than simply their gender. Look for data such as how many children they have, where they are located, and what their buying behavior is like. 

Here are five ways you can acquire more data on your customers and target market:

  1. Surveys – Create a survey and send it to your customers via voice broadcast, text marketing, email, and in-store. Ask questions that will help you dig deeper into what your customers’ buying behavior is like and what they need, and acquire additional demographics information. Offer an incentive (prize, gift, drawing, discount) for people to take the survey to increase signups.
  2. Research demographics – Sites like Quantcast will allow you to research the demographics of people who visit your website. If you do not get a lot of site visitors, research a competitor’s website instead.
  3. Create personas – From your demographics research, create personas. Use these personas when creating content or targeted projects. For more information on how to create personas, see this article
  4. Talk to salespeople and customer service – Ask your customer service team what are some common customer questions and concerns. Get a feel for customer wins/losses and what they like or don’t like about your brand.
  5. Your customers are talking…are you listening? – Get out there and join your own community! Listen to customers' comments when they engage with your employees, read their comments on your social profiles and get involved in the communication to uncover their deep needs, problems, and wants.  

Personalization

Seventy-four percent of consumers get frustrated when content is not personalized towards their interests. Your audience is tired of blanket messages and generic communication. Personalization can help you connect with your customers more and make them feel like you are their only one.
 

The first step to personalization is knowing your customers, which we discussed in our last point. Next, find ways to tailor your messages to connect with customers on a deeper level. Here are some tips:

  1. Personalized emails and texts – Include the recipient’s name in your emails and texts with custom fields.
  2. Voice broadcast – Use voice broadcast messages to offer customers solutions to make their shopping experience easier and keep your brand top of mind.
  3. Recommendations – Offer customers product recommendations based on their behaviors. On a website, you can do this by adding a recommended products section and tailoring it to the user’s preferences. In your store, position similar styles and products together and train your salespeople to take notice of buying behavior to make customer experiences more memorable. 
  4. Create one-to-one customer experiences – Each interaction your customer has with your business should be an opportunity to identify attributes that can predict their preferences. Create experiences for these customers that meet those preferences. For example, if a customer booked an engagement party at your establishment, a few months later, offer her tips and products to help her create a great wedding experience and honeymoon.  

Customer service

Though customer-centric marketing should touch every department, customer service is the most important as it involves closer touch points to your customers. No one is as familiar with your customers as your service team.

To promote a customer-centric marketing environment and mindset, provide your customer service team with helpful tips on how to engage customers and develop this mindset. If you would like assistance with this, download our free customer service tips sheet here to give to your customer service team so they can learn how to create and maintain this customer-focused atmosphere. 

Customer-Centric Marketing in Action

Many businesses are getting great results with their customer-centric marketing approaches. Here are some examples of retailers and marketers who have used text messaging and voice broadcast to connect more with customers and grow their businesses:

Dave Shaheen

Luxury shoe sales manager, Dave Shaheen, used voice broadcast to provide a personalized experience for customers. First, he sent a voice broadcast to his clients to encourage opt-in so he could contact them again. Keeping a customer focus, Shaheen then gave clients the option to connect to the shoe department to either reserve a pair of shoes or remove themselves from the list. Because of this attention to his customers' needs, the campaign led to greater in-store transactions. His voice broadcast was responsible for 90% of sales during one of his notable campaigns.

Schwaps

Real estate investment company, Schwaps, used voice broadcast to keep in contact with warm leads. Schwaps gathered information from prospective property buyers, and when the property sold, they stayed in contact with them via voice broadcast to continue to build the relationship and develop rapport. Voice broadcast has allowed this company to speed up its small business marketing processes and earn more trust and respect with its clients.

Jostens

Jostens, a yearbook, class, and championship ring provider, used text messaging to engage its customers by sending helpful reminders and a customer service number for questions. When Jostens visits schools it hands out “diploma cards” that includes the option to sign up for the text updates. As an incentive, Jostens gives away a free class ring to one lucky subscriber. As a result of the campaign, student happiness has soared and turnout has been at an all-time high.

In-Shape Health Clubs

The California-based In-Shape Health Clubs are ranked in the top 20 list of fitness clubs across the US. In-Shape uses voice broadcast to connect to its customers and keep their needs top of mind. The fitness club sends customer voice messages about budget-wise membership costs, new member welcome calls, new club opening announcements, and autopay discounts for new signups. In-Shape is engaging its customers and getting them excited about becoming a part of its tight-knit community.

Your small business marketing needs a customer focus if you want to move with the trends and build a community of loyal brand ambassadors. When you can place your focus on the customer first, you will also be boosting your brand and increasing sales by creating loyalists who will spread the word and become long-time customers.

If you want to learn how to use voice broadcast like these companies to create a more customer-centric marketing focus, create a free account here and get started connecting with your customers. Long-term profits and loyal brand ambassadors await!

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