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5 steps to overcome your biggest fears about customer-centric marketing

When you’re trying to be the next hot thing on the market, it’s easy to become frantic trying to please everyone. Remember the swarms of handheld devices that were introduced before Apple’s iPhone? Most of them were trying so hard to achieve everyone’s idea of the perfect phone that they ended up offering scarily complicated user experiences. Ironically, these feature-driven engineers were vying for market share by disregarding their customers’ wants and needs.

Of course, you don’t want to neglect your customers’ wants. At the same time, the words “customer-centric marketing” might strike fear in your strategy meeting. What if you get your target client wrong and spend your entire budget aiming at a group of people who will never understand your offering? 

But consumer-centric marketing doesn’t have to involve giving up your place in the market race. Just like Apple used its tools and talents to deliver a targeted offer and grab market share, you can grow engagement with your brand by staying in touch with the most valuable segment of your audience. 

Market to the right audience every time 

While a customer-centric approach can be intimidating, avoiding it could result in targeting the wrong audience, which will hurt your brand in the long run. Customer centricity extends beyond long-standing, friendly, and helpful customer service or business-as-usual designs. It’s a strategy that will perfectly align a brand’s products with its customers’ wants and needs. 

Here are five steps for crafting a solid customer-centric marketing plan:

1. Focus on your 20%

Let’s face it: About 20% of your client base is great. These are the loyal, excited clients who keep you going. The other 80% are your short-term, pain-in-the-neck clients. According to Peter Fader, author and marketing professor, focusing on the needs and desires of your 20% creates a stronger client base that can attract similar potential clients.

2. Stay organized

To reach great clients, you need the operational and organizational ability to deliver different products and services to different groups. Standard customer relationship management systems and social CRMs can help by serving as platforms where you can collect data and develop a pattern of testing and evaluating various marketing strategies. This will give you the segmented, targeted audience that includes your greatest clients and brand ambassadors.

3. Use the right tools for you

Depending on your industry, certain social CRMs can be more effective than others. Facebook ad marketing varies by vertical, with some brand ads — alcohol brands, for example — providing a much higher average cost per click. While Facebook reaches the largest audience, Twitter is better suited to brand conversion and positive word-of-mouth activity. Lastly, Pinterest is dipping its toes in ad targeting, and it’s one to watch for certain demographics, such as women.

4. Identify and empathize

Once your infrastructure is focused on finding your 20%, you can create a long-term marketing plan made up of campaigns that use different parameters to suit your target audience. In this way, your greatest clients will become long-term internal heroes for the brand. By tracking the engagement and interaction of your greatest users, you can identify and empathize with new pools of similarly great potential clients. 

5. Build an emotional connection

Spending behavior and population demographics aren’t the only data points that help you identify and empathize with your best clients. Keeping track of your clients’ emotional engagement with your company is another way to make sure you’re speaking to the heart of your ideal audience. Twitter experimented with this approach recently when it evaluated the emotional content of users’ tweets so it could build a more intimate brand connection. When story and emotion lead the way, clients will follow.

You don’t have to dump your friends to start focusing on your marketing efforts. Once you and your team really understand your target market — and you have a marketing plan that incorporates tools for tracking interactions between you and your magic 20% — you’ll start to create a world where everyone gets what they want.