Last year saw the creation and development of a new type of customer. They’re informed, knowledgeable, demanding and thanks to the likes of social media, armed with an open platform to provide honest feedback on their experiences with brands – whether good, bad or ugly.

The marketing landscape has always run with customers in mind, and to be honest we’d be pretty bad at our jobs if we didn’t put this group first, but what does this new army of super-customers mean to the industry and how does this affect the way we need to interact with them?

In the first month of this year Notonthehighstreet.com became the latest brand to completely cut its marketing director role in replacement of the customer director – a position that aims to communicate a more tailored and relevant experience to consumers based on data.

However, the online retailer wasn’t the first to recruit in line with the industry changes with its employment re-vamp, joining the likes of British Airways, Tesco, and a brand that’s notoriously well-known for both its marketing and customer strategies, John Lewis.

The fact that brands as large as these are willing to shake up their marketing departments shows the importance and value of adapting to customer needs and expectations.

Putting customers at the heart of marketing means not only a more appropriate and memorable experience, but numerous longer-lasting brand benefits such as extended loyalty and ultimately stronger, retained customer relationships. In the same way that consumers like the Starbucks barrister remembering their order and scribbling their name on a cup, people like to feel that brands have taken the time to understand and acknowledge their preferences, and can deliver a catered marketing tactic based on this.

Customers now have access to a vault of untapped data that makes them kings and queens of the marketing world. They can easily tap into unlimited information and are no longer relying on brands to provide them with what they need. This means brands need to essentially up their game and ensure they’re providing valuable experiences that can’t be found elsewhere. Failure to do this will mean customers will end up cutting out the middle-man, sourcing what they need themselves and therefore having no direct interaction with your brand.

Along with every other industry, marketing will continue to experience numerous changes as customers’ needs and demands evolve. In order to stay both current and competitive, brands and marketing professionals alike should remain fluid to these changes and view customers on an individual basis therefore aiming to cater based on this.

Failing to do so will not only result in potentially damaging the brand / consumer relationship as it stands, but will leave marketers one step behind when customer preferences shift once again.

Brands that are beginning to recognise and embrace the fact that customers are craving a one-to-one marketing interaction, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach, will be the ones to thrive in the new landscape. These are simply the beginning signs of putting customers at the heart of brand marketing strategies.

 

By Heidi Myers, Head of Marketing and Communication EMEA, Meltwater





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