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3 Steps to Building a Customer-First Marketing Strategy

Sprinklr Team

February 3, 2021  •  4 min read

Enterprise marketers are guilty of perpetuating a bad habit – and it’s one they don’t know how to break. They continue to take a “brand-first” approach to marketing instead of putting customers at the center of each decision.

As Harvard Business Review Analytic Services found in a new report, 80% of executives strongly agree that customer experience is important to an organization’s success. Yet just 34% believe they’re equipped to deliver superior customer experiences.

Those that don’t learn how to build and provide those experiences, however, will only be left behind. In fact, 75% of today’s S&P 500 companies will be replaced by 2027.

To help enterprises navigate this shift, Sprinklr combined original research and firsthand accounts from top marketing executives to uncover why customer-first marketing is the new form of marketing, and how leading organizations like IBM, Microsoft, and Nasdaq are rewiring their strategies to be more customer-centric.

Making the transition from brand-first to customer-first marketing isn’t easy – but it is necessary if enterprises want to survive in an ever-changing marketplace.

Here are three steps CMOs must take to successfully lead their organizations through a customer-first marketing change.

1. Understand the Shift in Power

With the rapid evolution of social media, customers are more connected and in control than ever before. People have the power to gather information and share their experiences across multiple touchpoints at any time. And they’ll do this with or without you.

“What customers are saying on social is what they’re saying to the world,” said Doug Palmer, principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP. “It’s a conversation that’s taking place about you – whether it be your brand or your product – and you’re not leading the conversation.”

We’re in a new world of business, and customers are at the wheel. Understanding and acknowledging this shift in power is the first step to building a customer-centric organization.

2. Adopt a Customer-Centric Mindset

To keep up with this shift, marketing leaders need to scrap their traditional hierarchies, funnels, and models. They need to start looking at the world from the perspective of a customer – not a brand.

For example, they have to break down silos between departments. Sales, customer service, marketing, and advertising must work together to develop a unified view of the customer. This will help marketing leaders understand customers’ needs and behaviors, and deliver personalized and relevant experiences.

“For decades, we’ve been building out complex processes and robust silos,” said Grad Conn, General Manager and CMO of Microsoft USA. “But now we’re waking up to a new dawn … Real transformation can’t just be a new piece of software. It has to be mindset transformation, organizational transformation, and technology transformation.”

3. Develop the Right Marketing Technology

Once marketing leaders understand the shifting landscape and structure their organizations accordingly, they need to rewire their technology for a customer-first world.

These tools must allow marketers to gather insights from customers’ conversations, incorporate those findings into the company, and follow-up with real-time messaging for distinct audience segments.

As Ian Rogers, Chief Digital Officer of Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, said, “Part of my job is to be unapologetically customer-centric, which means constantly saying … ‘I don’t really care how hard it is to move IT systems from where they are today to where they need to be. I’m going to make a checklist of what the customer must be able to accomplish, and we’re going to accomplish these things.’”

The Customer-First Future of Marketing

Eighty-nine percent of companies now compete primarily on the basis of customer experience. And yet only 1% of organizations delivered “excellent” customer experiences last year.

Change is far overdue.

If enterprises want to survive, they need to ditch their brand-first mindset and take a truly customer-first approach to marketing – today.

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