Customer-Centric Marketing — Chapter 4

What is Customer-Centric Marketing?

Customer-centric marketing is a strategy that places the individual customer at the center of marketing design and delivery. It starts from the realization that there is no “average” customer. Customers have different behaviors and preferences – and this presents rich opportunities to move past a “one-size-fits-all” marketing approach.

Customer-centric marketing teams think of their customer base as their greatest long-term investment. A useful analogy might be a financial portfolio containing different types of assets: stocks, bonds, and money market funds. These assets are all important in delivering long-term value. But they behave in fundamentally different ways – and the overall value of the portfolio is maximized by managing these assets differently.

Similarly, your loyal weekly customer who loves engaging with your brand on social media is different from your casual holiday shopper who only buys items on steep discount. And as a customer-centric marketer, you have an opportunity to communicate to these customers in fundamentally different ways.

Customer-centric marketing stands in contrast to other common marketing approaches, including the following:

Channel-centric marketing: Optimize individual channels based on channel-specific metrics (e.g., “likes” or followers for social media, opens and click-throughs for email)

Product-centric marketing: Optimize sales of individual product categories or brands, or of the overall mix/”portfolio” of products

Event-based: Manage marketing decisions based on optimizing events of interest (e.g., on-site conversions)

The limitation of each of these approaches in isolation is that they miss out on opportunities to synthesize rich insights about individual customers. You might be trying to push a particular customer a cardigan – but what if she would respond better to a dress? You might be trying to maximize a customer’s engagement with email today – but what if he would actually be likelier to respond to fewer, more targeted messages? And what if he reads and loves your emails, but always go to your site directly to make his purchases, so these purchases are not reflected in your email metrics?

Customer centricity empowers the marketing team to target the right customer with the right channel and right message – at the right time. It also helps teams align around a strategy that will drive long-term value to the business: acquiring high-value customers, and keeping them coming back.