Increasing Marketing Effectiveness Through Customer Centricity


Truly effective marketing can feel like such an elusive goal. You put in hours upon hours of work, try your best, but the results just aren’t what you hoped. At this point, it’s easy to get sucked into a cycle of thinking the problem is that you didn’t work hard enough.

Next thing you know, you’re burned out and what marketing effectiveness you had is gone.

Or, maybe you feel like your marketing really is delivering value, but you’re struggling to prove the ROI to your stakeholders. You’re technically “succeeding” but it sure doesn’t feel that way.

Addressing all of these issues begins with one thing: customer centric marketing. Both improving your marketing effectiveness and showing the value you’re providing begin with understanding and using customer centric techniques.

What Is Customer Centricity?

At its core, customer centric marketing is simply putting the needs and interests of your customers first when making marketing decisions.

Obviously that’s far easier said than done.

The problem is that this simple understanding of customer centric marketing has a limitation: it ignores the reality that marketers don’t only serve customers. They also serve other stakeholders: company leaders, other departments like sales, investors, etc.

Customer Centricity

That’s why in Agile marketing, customer centricity is expressed as a focus on stakeholder value. Customers are one of many stakeholders marketing has to focus on providing value. For example, you could offer all your products for free and thereby provide a ton of value to customers, but this would hardly serve your internal stakeholders.

So when we talk about being customer-centric, keep in mind that you should include all your stakeholders and not just your literal customers. But what exactly makes this approach so effective?

Why Marketing Effectiveness Begins with Being Customer-Centric

Too often, marketers get stuck focusing on the challenges right in front of them: how do I increase the CTR of this landing page? How can I meet my deadline for writing this eBook?

While this is understandable, it leads to a few issues. When the problem you’re trying to solve is meeting a deadline, you end up optimizing for solving that problem. You might sacrifice quality, for example. Over time, marketing can end up making countless decisions based around solving these practical problems and forget the larger goal of their marketing: delivering value to customers.

That’s why being customer-centric should be the north star of marketing.

Why Marketing Effectiveness Begins with Being Customer-Centric

When competition is tougher than ever, budgets get tight, and marketing is facing a steady stream of new challenges, focusing on customer value is the most effective way to keep your eye on what really matters. In these moments, what makes a business stand out is that customer value, not the kind of small tweaks you end up making to improve a page’s CTR  or make a deadline.

That’s not just talk either, McKinsey has found that customer-centric marketing improves ROI by around 15-20%.

The question your team members should be asking themselves regularly is “how is this providing value to our customers?” In practice, that might mean missing that deadline for the sake of higher quality. Or it may mean incorporating customer feedback into your workflow.

There’s no single answer, as long as it drives towards that north star. That reality is also why using customer-centricity to improve your marketing effectiveness requires experimentation.

Why Staying Effective Requires Experimentation

Saying you’re customer-centric is easy, but actually making it happen requires finding an effective way to get feedback from those customers. After all, you can’t rely on simply guessing what your customers want and, in any case, those wants are always going to change over time.

This could come in the form of surveys, interviews, or just regularly reviewing performance data. However you approach it, a consistent method of gathering feedback is essential. A great way to start that process is by building open feedback loops.

Open Feedback Loops

One problem with the way many marketers approach getting customer feedback is that they make it an ad hoc process. This often translates into a “we gather feedback when we feel like it, which is not very often” situation.

Instead, by building feedback into your workflow, you can ensure that you keep customers in the loop about priorities, progress, bottlenecks, etc. This process also needs to be open and transparent to avoid the temptation to cherry-pick feedback (consciously or unconsciously) to support what we already believe. Often, this is the best place to confront hard realities and make tough decisions about what marketing should actually prioritize.

But beyond gathering feedback, you need to ensure it gets applied before the cycle begins again. Otherwise, all the work you put into gathering that useful information can easily just go to waste.

The PDCA Cycle

PDCA Cycle Diagram

The Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is one of the simplest models for creating effective open feedback loops that translate into real on-the-ground improvements. Here’s how the steps break down:

Plan

Here you need to ask yourself what the core problem you’re trying to solve actually is. It’s a moment to stop and get beyond the surface-level challenges you’re facing and address what you can do to actually provide value to your customers. It’s also a chance to consider the resources and constraints you have.

Do

Next, you execute the plan you’ve made.

Check

This is the stage that too many marketers skim over. You need to actually look carefully at what went well, what could be improved, and to brainstorm ideas for making those improvements happen. 

In other words, this is the most valuable step because it’s the moment you can gather the feedback that will genuinely improve your marketing effectiveness and deliver real value to your customers.

Act

Finally, you must actually apply all those learnings to your process and ensure they get applied the next time. We’ve all had meetings where we came up with great insights that were never heard from again, so this is the moment you ensure that doesn’t happen!

Marketing Effectiveness Begins with the Right Message at the Right Time

Ironically enough, all of this really gets back to fundamentals. The foundation of lasting marketing effectiveness is often as simple as getting the right message to that customer at the right time.

At the end of the day, all of these feedback loops and customer-centric processes boil down to communication and delivering actual value. It’s easy to get caught up in optimizing marketing operations and forget that simple fact.

It’s Time for a New Approach

The years we’ve spent helping marketing leaders implement these kinds of processes have taught us that success requires both a foundation in both theory and practice. The on-the-ground realities of implementing things like feedback loops can throw even the most knowledgeable marketing managers into a loop if they’re not ready to deal with the practical challenges that usually arise.

To lay a good foundation for your future improvement efforts, start by analyzing your current processes. When ignored, you risk ending up with processes that slow you down, frustrate everyone, and create chaos. We prepared a dedicated guide on the topic. Check it out and understand whether bad processes are eating up your marketing budget and what you can do to improve them.

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