We say the one, we do the other
Saving and doing are still two different things. Brands claim they’re customer-centric; however, in practice, they definitely prioritize their own marketing interests with their content focused on inside-out product features. And the success is measured in KPIs such as conversion and sales.
I guess we all have seen this a bit too often. There are a few exceptions that confirm the rule.
The leading example of how to nail customer-centric excellence is the Apple iPod with ‘1,000 songs in your pocket’, not ‘storage for 1GB of MP3s.’
Putting your customer first takes some balls and kick-back to the silo’ed marketing department.
→ That’s why I claim to take content out of the marketing department. Give content its own place in the organization and have marketing as one of the main stakeholders, together with the brand, corporate comms, HR, and customer care.
Why it matters
Putting your money where your mouth is, is still a bold move for most marketers. That’s why their content often focuses on the brand and its products, not the customer.
In a few bullets explained why customer-centricity matters
- Content is only effective if it gets seen by your customer and they engage with it; by reading, seeing, liking, and clicking.
- Customers only engage with content when it adds value to them: inspires, educates, or is emotional.
- Logical conclusion: your content should do exactly that. Bragging and boasting about the brands’ product features is exactly the opposite with equal opposite results.
Do you sell a fire extinguisher or a feeling of safety?
Example. You sell fire extinguishers.
- Do you sell a red portable device that spits out foam with amazing volume in xx liters per second at xx speed per hour to extinguish a small to medium-starting fire in your house?
- Or do you sell a feeling of safety with an eye-catching, always visible super easy-to-use red thing to save your family in a fire emergency?
What is customer-centric content?
Customer-centric is an expensive word for being focused on your customer. It means as much as putting your customer first and having their interests as your priority.
In content, customer-centricity is brought to life by adding value to the customer, achieved through answering their potential questions, providing information, or evoking emotions.
All well said, rarely well executed.
Biggest marketing pitfall
It's very human to become a bit blindfolded by what you're doing on a daily basis.
Working in marketing means you're submerged in the brand, and it's logical that you forget others don't know as much about the brand and its products as you do. The same goes for the corresponding natural short-sightedness of what else is happening in the world. And this also goes for that it becomes increasingly difficult to put yourself in another person's shoes, especially your customers' shoes.
Not wanting to compare marketers to horses, yet the resemblance is quite striking. The longer someone works for a brand, the less you have an eye for the rest of the world, their needs, and what makes them tick. It's like having blinkers on, just like horses, that wear them not to be distracted by what's happening around them.
How to fix it
My three easy tips and tricks to sanity check your customer-centricity. In specific order.
- Would you click on your brands’ content yourself? As a customer, would you read or view it? If not, reconsider posting.
- Answer the question ‘what’s in it for them’ how is your content making your customers' lives easier or better?
- What is the result if your customer buys your product? Take that as the starting point for your communication.
Do you sell conference tickets or a two-day in-depth crash course?
Again, an example. You're organizing an AI and software development conference—the pretty in-depth nerdy stuff. Guess which approach will resonate the most with your audience and makes them want to attend the event.
- Do you sell a ticket with the date, location, and line-up and you keep the event content behind a paywall?
- Or do you sell access to a two-day in-depth crash course with all that matters AI and software development and give away the event content to warm up the attendees?
Food for thought
That all said, customer-centricity still is the magic word by many C-suites and senior managers. At the same time, they steer the teams on KPIs such as sales, conversions, performance, and vanity metrics.
Surprise, that's not how customer-centricity works. Putting your customer first really means you put them first. Reason from their perspective and place yourself in their shoes. Why the f*ck should I read, view or click on this shitty piece of content. How is this product going to help me do better, make my life a bit easier, or give me knowledge or a smile?
→ Taking content out of the marketing department is the first step to take. As long as content is within marketing, it will follow the marketing KPIs by design. And those marketing KPIs are not in the customers' best interest.
That's my rant for now. I hope this has inspired you to do a better content job. And if you don't know how, you know who to call.