There’s an old saying that “the customer is always right”. It’s a cliché, but like many clichés, it’s also true: You’re in business because you want to provide something useful and valuable for your customers. And happy customers become repeat customers and recommend your small business to their friends and family.
So it makes sense that your marketing focuses on your customers, too. It’s actually much more likely to be well-received by your target audience if you think about what your customers need first, and what your small business needs second.
If you’re not sure where to start with customer-centric marketing, here are some of my favourite strategies for putting your customers first.
1. Give them a choice
People hate being sold to when the product or service isn’t relevant to them, or when the style or frequency of the marketing isn’t what they want. So, give your customers a choice. Let them decide how they’d like to be marketed to, so you can provide them with the relevant information and encourage them to engage with your brand.
For example, include a section in your newsletter sign-up form which allows people to choose how often they want to receive emails from you, and which topics they’re most interested in. With GDPR coming into force soon, it’s really important to let customers know how and why you’ll be contacting them – giving them a choice helps to make things even more transparent.
2. Provide value
Customer-centric marketing isn’t all about selling products. It’s also about brand awareness, creating a community and providing value for your customers. Rather than constantly talking about your products, why not give something back and provide a valuable resource for customers?
I think Facebook Groups are great for this. You can create a community where like-minded people can have a conversation, help each other and discuss topics related to your industry. Make sure the community is related to your business somehow but also allows people to talk about wider issues. For example, if you’re a company which makes bike helmets, you could create a bike safety community. This fits in well with your products and target audience, but also shows that you care about your customers and want to help them – even if they haven’t purchased from you yet.
3. Prevent problems
Another strategy which I think works well as part of a customer-centric marketing plan is to be able to prevent problems before they crop up. Obviously, it’s impossible to foresee every problem that might occur, but have a think about the main challenges your customers might have. Be able to offer a solution to these key challenges before they happen, so customers know you are putting their needs first.
For example, the Christmas shopping period is always busy. Offer your customers different options which will allow them to avoid the rush and get exactly what they want. If you’re a retail shop, you might want to offer a pre-ordering service so customers can reserve the products they want and collect them at a convenient time. If you’re a beauty salon and know that appointments always get fully booked up in the weeks before Christmas, why not open bookings early for previous customers so they can make sure they get an appointment?
4. Anticipate their needs
To create a great customer-centric marketing strategy, you need to think like a customer. What exactly are they looking for? What do they want? What would make their life easier? Anticipate what the customer needs, and be able to provide this for them. You may even want to collaborate with other businesses to go above and beyond what your competitors can offer.
If you’re an estate agent, your customer needs a new home. But they also need information about the area, recommendations for local businesses and helpful advice. Rather than just fulfilling the customer’s basic needs, consider all these additional needs too. Put together a “newly-moved-in package” with information about businesses and social activities in the area, vouchers for neighbourhood restaurants or takeaways, and numbers for local handymen and cleaners. Trust me, the customer will appreciate the extra thought you’ve put in and will be more likely to use your service again or recommend you to a friend.
5. Listen to them
Above all, you need to listen to your customers. If you listen to what they’re saying, it’ll make your job much easier. Shape your customer-centric marketing strategy around what your customers actually want. You can even use their thoughts, feelings and words as part of your marketing.
Take a look at customer reviews you’re getting and think about the way people are describing your products or services. Use their own words for your marketing – just make sure you adapt the language or structure to avoid sounding like a robot! Listening to what your customers like about your company (and then using this as part of your marketing copy) will help you attract more similar customers.
WANT TO READ MORE?
To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
At Your Service: Customer-Centric Marketing for Small Businesses
How to Implement Customer-Centric Marketing for Small Businesses
7 Steps to Deliver a Better Customer Experience
What Is It Like to Be Your Customer?