“The customer’s perception is your reality.”

This is a statement from the renowned business trainer Kate Zabriskie.

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No matter how good you think you are, no matter how good you think your brand is, no matter how great you think your products are, even if you have the best skincare formula or the best artisan, the success of your brand depends on your customer.

Until you try to understand how your customer perceives things, you’d never be able to sell and if you eventually do sell, you’d never be able to keep them. The future and success of your brand depend on how your customer or would-be customer perceives your brand.

Why do we Market?

Marketing is important because it assists in helping you achieve your business objectives. For some entrepreneurs, the objective is making a profit and some the objective is to create impact/community services. Marketing is an essential channel to reach that end goal.

Creating a Customer-Centric Marketing Strategy

Make the Customer King

In creating a customer-centric marketing strategy, you should consider the old saying “The Customer is King”

“The Customer is King”

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I’m sure you have heard this old saying. To a lot of people, this saying only means that you have to render good customer service to your customers or treat them with respect. It is mostly defined in terms of reverence.

The question is, Are the customer really kings? Is that what being a king entails?

In creating a marketing strategy you must consider the customer first. The customer should influence what you do, when you do and how you do it.

The King controls the affairs but, they also have advisers. Your task should be to determine what or who those advisers are, who or what can influence the king’s decision.

Who/What influences the customer’s decision

  • Their Needs (This is a major influence and it’s not constant)
  • Their Environment (this includes the social influence, economic influence, seasons, time)
  • Convenience (this includes, finance, accessibility, values)

If you can create your marketing strategies around these 3 influencers then your marketing is said to be customer-centric;

1. Rather than creating your marketing strategies around the need to get the word out there, create your marketing strategies around meeting the needs of your audience. Apparently, the customer-centric approaches can still fall into the trap of defining the buyer’s need based on the benefits of your offering. Tempting as it may be, don’t start strategizing by focusing on why your products are so great. Instead, dive into understanding what buyers truly need. In this case, your strategy is not focused on telling them about what your product is all about, instead, it focuses on telling them how your products meet their immediate needs.

Note: Need-based segmentation is very crucial here

2. Rather than having a straight line marketing strategy, Make your marketing strategies very flexible. Your marketing strategies should be able to accommodate changes in seasons and times, economic and social conditions of your customers.

For example, during the harmattan season, the campaign Nivea did was “Harmattan can’t touch this. #breakupwithharmattan” for their deep moisture line of body cream.

I and a few of my friends bought the cream not because we could afford it, but because the problem we were facing at that moment was dry skin caused by Harmattan and Nivea said I can break up with harmattan by using any of their deep moisture body lotions, So why won’t I actually purchase what could solve my immediate problem.

Note: These line of deep moisture product has been available for quite some time now, and my belief is that Nivea leveraged on the Harmattan season to boost sales on that specific line.

There will come a time when “Harmattan can’t touch this. #breakupwithharmattan” will not work anymore, and that’s when the harmattan season ends. They will definitely need a new strategy then.

3. Be human. To me, being human means having and showing emotions. Crying when you’re upset or mad, laughing like a maniac when something humours you, and loving people to the ends of the earth, and letting them know that. Having values, longing to be noticed, regarded and respected.

One company that considered this aspect is Coca Cola, I read an article a few weeks ago, here’s a link to the article (coca-cola consumer-centric innovations) in this article, Coca-Cola praises marketing investment for helping to shift consumer mindsets about the soft drink company and its namesake brand.

A case study of their Share a Coke campaign, They said;

“We gave consumers an opportunity to express themselves through a bottle of Coke, and to share the experience with someone else. The fact that your name is on a Coke bottle, it can’t get more personal than that!”

Here’s their reason for this campaign;

“Our research showed that while teens and young adults loved that Coca-Cola was big and iconic, many felt we were not talking to them at eye level. By putting first names on the packs, we were speaking to our fans at eye level.”

Check full details here

I wasn’t a fan of caffeinated drinks, but I started buying coke when a friend of mine brought a bottle of coke to my house with my name comfort on the bottle. So I actually gave myself the task of looking for all my names Comfort Ronke Arike Olatunde, guess how excited I felt when I found bottles with all my names, though it took quite some time and money, to me, it was worth it and I felt so connected and emotional.

Another Coca Cola example is the Coke Zero, there was a huge outbreak that Coca-Cola drink is not good for your health because of the large sugar contents. Coca Cola’s response to that was creating a Sugar-free drink.

According to a publication in marketingweek.com, the soft drink giant saw net revenues increased 8% year on year to $9.5bn (£7.3bn) which was driven by innovation, new packaging and low and no-sugar variants.

I could go on and on about coca cola’s customer-centric innovations.

The strength of Coca Cola over their competitors is their ability to listen to their customers.

One of the most difficult and important aspects of being a marketing professional is knowing how to leverage on your consumers or would-be consumers emotions to achieve your goals.”

4. Sell Value: “People don’t want what you make; they want what it will do for them” Seth Godin. They want to know if it’s an investment or an expenditure. You cannot inspire action until you have been able to sell the values of your product or service. No one will buy what they have no connection to.

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Finally, The best way to sell is to listen. Pay attention to what your customers are saying. If you can listen well you’ll be able to sell and market well. Ask your customers, listen to them, understand what they are saying and create your strategies around it.

Marketing and Brand Communication Strategist

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