Mapping the journey to customer centric communications

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

How customer centric is your marketing?

I have a challenge for you.

I want you to take a long, hard look at your business, and ask yourself one question: ‘is my marketing customer centric?’

Or, to be even more specific: ‘is my marketing still customer centric?’

The pace of change is fast. And the fact is, just because you optimised your marketing in the past, it doesn’t mean you’re doing all you can to put customers first today.

Customer centricity has always been a key differentiator. But with today’s explosion in data and technologies, customers expect communications to be more personalised and relevant than ever before.

Data is key to going that extra mile. And it’s no coincidence that Amazon – one of the biggest generators of consumer data – was built on the premise of being ‘the world’s most customer centric company’.

Despite this, we should remember data is just a tool. In my experience, before businesses can start utilising it, they need to ensure their company culture is properly aligned.

Remember, good businesses focus on how they sell. Great business focus on how their customers buy.

Mapping the customer journey

The foundation of any customer centric marketing programme is a solid understanding of your customers’ buying journey.

In a B2B world this can be complex. While you may simply be selling a product, it’s equally likely you’re encouraging a subscription renewal, or pushing your product to new business units within an existing customer.

Furthermore, unlike B2C, you’re probably not selling to an individual. Multiple stakeholders can be involved in business buying decisions, all of whom use different channels and have different buying triggers.

Once you’ve nailed down a top level, stage-by-stage buying journey, you can augment your understanding with historical data. Whether it’s gathered from your own or external channels, data can help you build a better picture of who your customers are and what their preferences are.

This can be further defined with solid qualitative data – best gathered through focus groups where you can get up close and personal with your customers.

Better yet, you can physically put yourself in your customers shoes by (shock, gasp!) buying your product yourself. This is such a simple way to highlight the kinks and bottlenecks that are causing customers to drop off, yet many businesses simply don’t do it.

Customer centric communications has many more facets – most of which I hope to cover over the next four posts. For now though, mapping out this buying journey will get you well on the way to better engaging with your prospects.

Matt Stevens is global managing director of MOI Global

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