Shifting Marketing From Product-Centricity To Customer-Centricity

Moira Vetter
July 3, 2019

Most companies these days feel they need to move to a more customer-focused view of expressing their unique value proposition. It makes strategic sense and undoubtedly will lead to greater market traction—until it comes to committing the story to the digital canvas.

Here’s how it too often works

We have a client that wants to tell their story with a customer-centric approach. One of the first key outputs we commonly work on is a Sales Deck. By “work on” we mean, we put the customer challenges and needs at the front of the deck and work to establish a relatable narrative. Then, and only then, do we introduce the client’s product or service-specific slides that align with the customer’s reality.

On the first revision round, the client pulls all of the company overview, product overview and product/service specification information back up to the front. And then we have a talk. (This process is familiar whether it’s a sales deck, a video, a website, etc.)

Do you have what it takes to put the customer first?

It is an important question. And one that isn’t just for executives. If the marketing team doesn’t speak to sales, or if the sales team isn’t trained to speak about the customer first—in perhaps a solution selling or Challenger selling method—then your message isn’t customer-centric. At least not in an integrated fashion.

If your marketing talks about the customer, you invest in a rich customer-centric web experience and then your sales and account managers revert to their old ways of talking about what you do, the customer isn’t at the center.

Customer-centricity pulls through from marketing to sales to customer service

For our larger publicly traded clients with dozens or hundreds or products, we typically work all the way through the market position (informed by the sales reality), the marketing creative, the sales tools and training, and the measurement expectations before we put a single word or visual in market.

It may sound like it takes a long time, but it shouldn’t if you take a holistic approach to sales and marketing success when you begin a marketing effort. In fact, it’s a whole lot faster to get to market and succeed once there when the integrated exercise has been spelled out at the start.

The alternative is likely beautiful marketing, that may or may not speak to the sales reality, followed by a battle of wills with misaligned sales and marketing teams. 

Align around the customer first, as a group, and see what a difference a strategic approach to the customer can make.