The Role of Marketing
Posted by Becky Carroll on September 20, 2007
Marketing’s role in an organization is changing. It is no longer enough to push a product or service at a customer, thinking it will meet that customer’s need because they fit into a certain demographic. I may purchase a printer for my PC so I can print off email messages and documents; another person may purchase it to print their digital photos for a scrapbook. Both of us are between the ages of 18-36 and have a good income plus a college education. But that information is not enough to ascertain how that printer will be used.
Knowing which magazines I subscribe to, which TV shows I watch, and what kinds of products I purchase does not really tell you my story, either. It is marketing’s role to truly understand the customer’s need from a psycho-graphic and behavioral aspect. In order to do that, marketers are finding it necessary to view their company, its products and services, and even each place a customer touches that company from the customer’s perspective. Only then can we begin to understand the underlying needs of a customer.
Becoming a Customer Needs Expert
Marketers can no longer solely rely on their previous methods to understand customer needs. For example, focus groups will give us an idea of customer direction or a general understanding of behaviors, but we may not really understand what each customer segment needs without asking them. Why is this customer purchasing a printer? Have they ever purchased one before? What would they say they need from a printer? Better yet, what would they say they need to do with their computer? How much of that would be facilitated by the printer? Digging deeper into customer needs and behaviors is a new, yet critical marketing function that not many marketers are performing.
Marketing teams are becoming customer needs experts as part of their role in the new customer-centric business world. It is imperative that companies work with marketing to put into place a repeatable system for collecting customer information, create a method for sharing that information throughout the organization, and finally, act on the information. Learning from our customers, then doing something with what we learn, is a solid way to create a barrier to exit for our customers. When we learn about our customer, then use that learning to do something different for that customer, we have created a unique value proposition for them that our competitors can’t match. This is because we now have customer insight that they don’t have. When we continue to learn from each interaction, then change our behaviors to benefit our customer, we build a relationship with them, and ultimately, we build loyalty.
Gathering Info a Little at a Time
We can begin learning from our customers with each interaction they have with us, at any touch point. When we remember and record those interactions, we can fill out the profiles we have on individual customers and share them with the rest of the organization. The use of Web 2.0 techniques is a great way to have conversations with our customers in such a way that we can get immediate feedback from them on specific areas. As we track these conversations with individuals over time and across our company, we begin to understand what they need from us.
Growing the Business
As marketers begin to truly understand their customers’ needs, they can then create campaigns which are more relevant, more customized, and more likely to spur engagement with the brand. This should result in increased action on the part of the customer.
When the organization remembers the customer’s previous interactions and uses that corporate memory to improve the customer’s experience for the next time, trust is built with customers. Trust, corporate memory, and relevant marketing are critical ingredients to building solid relationships with and getting loyalty from existing customers.
And of course, growing business from existing customers is one of the most cost-effective approaches there is!