What's your favourite tv advert?
If you're anything like me, as soon as I address the question of what is my favourite advert, my head is filled with jingles such as "Holidays are coming", images of galloping horses and waves alongside the strapline "good things come to those who wait" and the mesmerising image of a gorilla playing the drums to Phil Collins' song, "In the air tonight".
What images jumped into your head? Did you guess right? A quick reminder - "Holidays are coming" is Coca Cola, "Good things come to those who wait" is Guinness and the drum playing gorilla was from the Cadbury Dairy Milk campaign. Apologies if I've now provided you with an earworm, apparently if you recite the alphabet backwards or sing God Save the Queen it will go away, but don't quote me on that!
Those adverts stuck in my head, because I could relate to them, maybe due to years of tradition with Coca Cola or because I love visual story telling as demonstrated in the Guinness ad or in the case of Cadbury Dairy Milk was it about the storytelling or was it because that drum section from Phil Collins' song is so iconic? Either way, I could relate and those images and experiences have stayed with me forever.
So what has a drum playing gorilla got to do with customer-centricity? My point here is not about spending a small fortune on tv advertising and coming up with the newest household name advert to attract and grow your customers, also let's be realistic here, not many advertising budgets would stretch as far as the likes of Coca Cola, Cadbury's or Guinness who in all of the cases above were not so focussed on just selling their products but marketing their Brand. Marketing is now less about how much you spend on advertising with big-bang adverts and catchy earworms and now more than ever about the power of tapping into the hearts and minds of customers where everything you do and say is speaking to them personally.
Think about the last time you clicked on an offer or article that popped up while you were scrolling through facebook or watching a Youtube video. Now pop ups can be very annoying, particularly when your first response is why would they think I'm interested? I'll never forget as soon as I approached 50, I started receiving adverts for will writing, yes it's obvious that it's something I should start thinking about at my age, but was I ready for it just because I was a month off my 50th birthday? No! This is a great example of where I ticked the demographics box, but no other considerations of my motivations at that time were part of the ad selection picture. However, if I had been recently researching will writing, my response would most likely have been different and I potentially would have clicked to learn more.
The key to standing out from the crowd and being truly customer-centric is to communicate as though you are speaking directly to that individual. When they read your content or see your advert, in their heart they are saying yes that is what I need right now and in their head, they are thinking, yes you have a great solution for me that I want to investigate right now.
The changing customer journey
Many businesses talk about being customer-centric, however the reality for many is customer focus is mainly aimed at the buying stage of the customer journey only. The customer journey has changed since the days where we would see an advert for a product or service and go to a shop or call a number to purchase. The buying journey is less linear and customers are more savvy, using the internet and mobile phones to research and compare products and services and physical distance is no longer a barrier to getting what you want. Why wait for an appointment to speak with a sales person when you can do the research yourself in less time. Why wait until the shops open to browse and compare products when I can do this anytime and anywhere on my mobile phone. Why wait to speak to a customer services team to get the information I need, when I can simply google for a download or watch a Youtube video. In the time-poor world that we live in now, immediate answers is the customer expectation every time.
Sales teams and physical premises are still of the utmost importance, however marketers today must consider how to integrate their digital marketing strategy with sales team efforts to meet the needs of their target customers at every stage of the buying journey.
As outlined above, the customer buying journey has evolved as the internet evolves where multiple online and offline touchpoints are in play before a decision is made to buy. So how do we manage this without making our marketing strategy hugely complex?
Avanish Kaushik (Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google) introduced the SEE/THINK/DO/CARE marketing content framework which tackles 4 things to put the customer first in all sales and marketing activities.
- Breaking down silos across sales and marketing
- Building a content strategy for online and offline activities
- Building a marketing strategy for online and offline activities
- Building a measurement strategy for online and offline activities
The SEE/THINK/DO/CARE stages as detailed in the diagram below, segment customers by their intention at four stages of the customer journey. Understanding the customer's intention and the actions they take both online and offline at each stage of their journey enables marketers to understand the buying journey through the lens of the customer and deploy the right content strategy, marketing strategy and measurement strategy for both online and offline interactions.
For further information on Avanish Kaushik's framework click on the link above.
Customer micro-moments and signals
As mobile becomes an indispensable part of our daily lives, we no longer have that set routine of putting time aside to boot up the laptop and spend time online researching products and services. Mobile google searches are now significantly outstripping desktop searches. Think about how often you do a quick check on your mobile to find out more, compare products, find your nearest outlet, watch a video on how to do something, buy a product while on your sofa or out and about. Every one of these moments is a signal of intent and an opportunity for marketers to provide the right information at the right time to the right customers to help them at every stage of their journey.
Key questions on our customers minds
- I want to know
- I want to go
- I want to do
- I want to buy
A customer at the SEE stage, may be looking for general information on your area of expertise, while a customer at the THINK stage could be searching to find out more about products and services like yours. The customer who is searching to buy products/services at midnight is just as keen to make that transaction as someone searching during opening hours. And finally the customer in the CARE stage wants reassurance they have made the right decision and after-care is critical to their loyalty and return. When considering customers at each stage of the buying journey, the two questions to always ask are (1) is our content mobile first? (2) how can we deliver the best value to the customer?
When achieving the sweet spot of achieving your business objectives whilst meeting the needs of your customers at every stage of their journey, that is when you have achieved true customer-centricity and will stand apart from the crowd.