Different functions within all organisations deal with different, yet clearly defined areas. These include financial management, information technology and human resources. The marketer is different in seeking to understand the customer and why he or she buys. Also in 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. 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. You may find these people in your own team, on the board or in different functions. Yet the most successful businesses in the world are customer driven.
Marketers should never underestimate the need be a ‘disciple’ of marketing
This means advocating and thinking from a customer point of view. In particular, putting the customer at the heart of decision making. Part of your job must therefore involve helping colleagues grasp the concept and benefits of marketing. Specifically that understanding customers and their needs is an essential process to optimise products or services and meet customers’ needs. Further to embrace and act on this by understanding your own customers.
How to understand customers?
To understand your own customers, go beyond demographics to understand specific needs, drivers, attitudes and behaviours. Understand differences in attitudes and behaviour, such as in offline and online environments, also why customers do what they do. Identify key customer segments, and create recognisable personalities around your segments. This will help communicate who they are to others, forge understanding and recognition. It will also help target them more effectively. Throughout 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 what drives purchase and usage. Also 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. 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.
Do you need help to understand customers, or to help your organisation become more customer or marketing-driven? If so get in touch. We’ve helped businesses and brands in the most consumer-driven of markets to many embracing customers for the first time.
Read successful marketing part 3 – install early warning radar.