Within any business different functions deal with different, yet clearly defined areas such as a financial management, information technology and human resources. The marketer is different in seeking to understand the customer, understanding WHY he or she buys and interpreting this understanding so that it can be used to influence all aspects of a business.
Having worked with many organisations, no matter how sophisticated they might seem on the outside, it’s amazing how many lack a customer orientation. Yet the most successful businesses in the world are customer driven. It’s also amazing how so many people in so many organisations fail to grasp the basic concept of marketing. They don’t understand and put the needs of customers first. Whether some of these people are in your own team, on the board or in different functions, the marketer should never underestimate the need be a ‘disciple’ of marketing.
This means advocating and thinking from a customer point of view. It means putting the customer at the heart of decision making. Part of your job must involve helping colleagues grasp the concept and benefits of marketing and helping them realise that it simply involves understanding customers and optimising products or services to meet customers’ needs. Beyond this it must involve helping them understand your own customers and embrace and act on what they have learned.
To understand your own customers, go beyond demographics to understand specific needs, drivers, attitudes and behaviours. Understand what’s going on both overall and online as well as WHY customers do what they do. Identify key customer segments, create recognisable personalities around your segments to help communicate who they are to others and target them more effectively. Above all resist the temptation to put all your resources into new customers, the richest vein is your current customer base. Keeping them and getting them to buy more more often must be your core objective (especially in tough times).
Keeping customers can be achieved by really understanding the customer ‘journey’ for your product. Conduct consumer or market research to find out what drives purchase and usage, what the barriers are and what part the brand plays? Look at how the customer behaves online – but not in isolation – this will help you reveal new opportunities to build brand awareness and drive sales though all channels.
Seeking new insight into customer behaviour and how the market works will be the key to growth or sales stability (in times of recession). And as insights can come from anywhere you should look in many places and look at customers in different ways in order to reveal them.
Consumer understanding is one of seven essentials to become a successful marketer. So go forth and evangelise.
Do you need help to understand customers, or to help your organisation become more customer or marketing-driven? If so get in touch with The Marketing Directors strategic marketing consultancy. We’ve helped businesses and brands in the most consumer-driven of businesses to many embracing customers for the first time.