Editor’s Notes: What 'Customer-First' Looks Like
There are a lot of things in business named for the customer: “customer experience,” “customer journey,” “customer-centric,” “customer relationship management” (CRM), “voice of the customer” ... and probably a few others that I’m forgetting.
Clearly, the idea is to put your customers first. But what does that actually look like?
To many marketers, putting the customer first means building the marketing and sales strategy around convincing prospects to become customers and customers to become repeat buyers. It’s optimizing the marketer-customer interaction to drive sales.
That’s essential to your marketing strategy, but it’s not “customer first.” In fact, it’s company first. The customer only factors into the strategy as the object that needs to be acted upon to achieve your goals. It’s one-way communication.
Then I look at a company like Cisco, the subject of our cover story this month, and I see what “customer-first” really looks like. There is a constant back-and-forth with customers that shapes the company’s products, customer interactions and all of its marketing. It’s not just about making sales — although you do get those along the way — it’s about providing the experience and the help your target audience needs.
Once you’re doing that successfully, and once you’ve optimized your products and services to be ideal for those needs, your company becomes the obvious one to do business with. You become the easiest choice for buyers to make.
Sometimes you see salespeople go into a client meeting as if it’s a confrontation. Like it’s a fight, and they need to win an argument to make a sale. (As if arguing with a prospect is ever a good thing.) Good marketing wins that fight before it even happens. Putting the customer first lets you make sure the sales war is happening on the battlefield you chose and have already prepared for victory.
If your marketing feels more like you’re struggling for recognition than setting up a sure thing, it’s time to really put your customers first.
Chris Lyons Joins Target Marketing
And speaking of putting the customer first, you’ll see a new name on our masthead this month. Chris Lyons has joined NAPCO Media as group president and chief revenue officer of our Marketing Group (which includes Target Marketing). He is stepping in for Peggy Hatch, who, after 23 years of building the marketing and retail sector to the market leader it is today, is moving to a senior advisory role at NAPCO Media and focusing on new corporate e-commerce and data initiatives.
Lyons comes to NAPCO Media having launched and sold several digital media companies. Most recently, he served in multiple marketing roles at Kodak. He is a marketer’s marketer, and we think his experience and ideas are going to help make Target Marketing even more reader- and customer-focused in the months ahead. Stay tuned for some exciting new projects in the pipeline.