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Four guaranteed ways to estrange your customers

“Reconnect your brand.” That’s the slogan one of my former customers, who is active in the marketing automation space, started using recently as part of a rebranding strategy. However, it’s more than a slogan. Customer-centricity often remains a hollow slogan. Brands and businesses are really disconnected from their customers. Marketing is broken as I recently wrote.

It has to do with personality, processes, trust and living up to promises. Furthermore, the changes in how people inform themselves, interact and decide, alienate brands even more. So, if brands are alienated, the question is how they can “reconnect” as in my former customer’s slogan? Time for some ‘tips’. It was once believed that a brand was primarily a matter of positioning. However, the role of perception and reputation plays a more significant role in defining what a brand and business really is. Customer-centricity is no longer optional and enhancing the customer experience is your key goal.

Your brand lies in the eye of the beholder: your customer

In that regard, all touchpoints play a significant role as they define customer experiences that get shared nowadays. A brand is really a promise of meeting the needs, expectations and promises of prospective customers and other people in the ecosystem of the business.

Although branding and PR obviously remain important, many rules have changed and the public dimension of social has even strengthened this evolution. The value of a brand is in the eye of the beholder and revolves around credibility, personality, trust, openness, transparency, relevance and the level of participation that is necessary in social business for instance.

Having more valuable relationships and putting the preferences of the connected customer in the centre is essential to succeed in marketing and building a strong brand reputation. In the end, it’s a very human and emotional approach in all aspects, one of the reasons why nowadays we often talk about people-centricity instead of customer-centricity. This means it’s not (just) about your mission, vision and values anymore. It’s about those of your customers, in the largest possible sense of the word. Buyers, prospects, partners, employees, visitors and their connections: everyone in the ecosystem around your brand.

People want to buy from people and know how they are buying from. They want to know who will answer their questions and experience the personal approach they had in the good old local grocery shop, being able to talk to a person instead of a corporate building. They want authenticity.

So, reconnecting your brand is about reconnecting people. After all, that’s also what social media is about. A brand is about more than experiences, slogans and perception: it’s about people. Now, how do you reconnect your brand? Personality is one of the answers.

How to kill customer-centricity

1. Send general messages with the same content for everyone

Forget personalization, segmentation, customer-centricity, behavioral profiling, scenarios, event-driven marketing, etc. After all, sending the same messages to everyone, without taking into account individual behavior, preferences and needs, works perfectly, as long as we keep repeating it. Sticking to the old rules of broadcasting is the perfect way to disconnect your brand. Ignore the fact that people actively seek information themselves and control their buying journey. Ignore what we know as ‘inbound’. Just push out the same messages over and over. Expand your batch and blast approach in email marketing to social, content marketing and anything else.

2. Ignore customer data, forget customer-centricity and control your brand at any cost

You define what your brand stands for. Ignore the reality of what people say on social networks or what feedback they give you elsewhere and strictly follow your rules. Don’t let go of your brand, even not a little: control. Of course, you need to have lots of data but don’t use them to make your marketing more relevant. You are in command, and the customer is not empowered at all. Stick to that approach and you will surely alienate your brand.

3. Disconnect your marketing and customer systems

Make sure you have different applications for all your marketing and customer-facing needs. One to send emails, one to analyze and track, one to listen to customer (or act as if you do), one to manage your marketing resources, one for mobile, etc. The consumer doesn’t use multiple channels; he simply clicks and buys. Or he comes into your store and buys. Do not choose an integrated marketing approach. Alienating your brand means disconnecting your applications too!

4. Customer-centricity requires you to ignore the silos

The best way to run your marketing is by putting everything in silos. Every marketing channel deserves to be siloed. After all, your customer is not one single human being. Now he’s a subscriber, next he’s a fan, then a follower and in the end just an anonymous target. Furthermore, make sure that all marketing interactions are handled by various marketing and customer departments (product marketing, etc.) without any coordination whatsoever. Marketing fatigue, banner blindness and skipping TV ads are just an illusion.

Bonus tip: don’t involve other departments, outside of marketing either. And never ever involve the customer. That would be customer-centricity and you want to avoid it at all costs.

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