Build a Customer-Centric Marketing Plan & Culture

Traditional marketing tactics no longer work like they used to. But what are the defined reasons that explain this?

According to Forbes, the following factors have caused the death of traditional marketing:

  • Brand trust has plummeted to an all-time low.

  • Millennials distrust traditional advertising.

  • Easy access to online information has engendered new expectations.


Clearly customers want more, and better, so marketers should be continuously interviewing customers to learn about their needs, goals, and preferences. That’s the only way to succeed in today’s marketing world, and it will inform these eight key steps to cultivating a customer-centric culture.

Formulate Buyer Personas

Your buyer persona should guide your messaging every step of the way. “If your buyer is deeply technical, they’ll look for deeply technical content,” says the Digital Marketing Institute. “If they’re highly strategic that same technically-oriented content won’t resonate with them in the same way.”

Craft a buyer persona that contains characteristics such as:

  • Organizational role

  • Career level

  • Company size

  • Education

  • Income level

  • Gender

  • Goals and priorities

  • Values

  • Challenges

Conduct consumer research to develop this target persona. Study existing customers, noting common characteristics. Review market data reflecting who the customers in your field are and what they are looking for. Create an avatar paired with this description to help your marketers visualize this target audience.

Create a Content Inventory

Design a content framework that reflects what you want to see on your website and other channels, speaking to the challenges customers face.

Next, inventory your content to find out what you need to weed out and create.

By auditing your content, you’ll avoid reinventing the wheel. Let’s say you’ve identified a particular area as important. Once you create an inventory of all existing content, you’ll know what you already have - and what you might need to tweak.

Create Content with a Human Element

Content that relates to customers on a human level is key to a customer-centric culture. Think personable and interactive. Give your customers something that makes them smile – say, a humorous video reflecting one of their pain points - and lets them know they’re not alone.

Replace product pitches with content that directly focuses on helping them solve a problem, like informative blog posts, white papers, or podcasts.

Speak from personal experience, share stories of customers facing similar challenges, and let your target audience hear your voice whenever possible.

Make the Customer the Hero of the Journey

Your brand narrative and messaging should make your customers the heroes of their own journey. When you help them accomplish a goal, you should emphasize their success, positioning yourself as playing a supporting role.

Wrong way: “We did an energy audit of Company A’s workplace that allowed us to cut their energy bills by 20 percent.”

Right way: “Through an energy audit, Company A pinpointed ways to reduce their energy bills by 20 percent.”

In short, frame the message to focus on what they did; not what you did. Your target buyer will then envision themselves succeeding in the same way – with your assistance.

Build an Online Community

“When nurtured properly, a community has the ability to produce authentic sharing, learning, teaching, and engagement,” says the Digital Marketing Institute. They describe how one company created an interactive forum that connected customers, employees, and partners. Participants could share supportive advice and read success stories, and the company even held offline events where they could connect in real life.

Involve both employees and customers in this community, fostering a direct connection between them. Create a platform for them to share their successes and advice, to help nurture one another along their journey. Consider implementing e-learning modules, webinars, or online conferences.

Create Partnerships with Trusted Influencers

People are far more likely to listen to the advice of trusted third parties than that they receive from ads. Partner with influential leaders and trendsetters in your field and encourage them to share information about your brand.

Some brands have found creative ways of allowing influencers to shape their content, such as by designing a variation of a current product, leading to long-term partnerships. By allowing influencers to demonstrate their thought leadership, you promote their careers while they promote your brand.

Organize Your Content Well

It’s vital that you make your content easy to navigate. The Content Marketing Institute describes how one company made its website highly accessible to the target persona by allowing them to select the challenge they’re facing in the navigation panel to access information specific to that issue.

Utilize metadata to make content easily discoverable, too. Use tags to group content according to key categories such as customer challenges, industry, and topic.

Share Customer Insights with Every Department

The marketing department needs to distribute customer insights throughout the organization rather than keeping them in a silo. Harvard Business Review describes how Adobe Systems “democratizes” customer analysis throughout the organization by creating a new department that focuses on both the customer and employee experience, thus cultivating a customer-centric organization.

“It set up listening stations where employees can go, either online or in an Adobe office, to listen to customer calls. And at every all-employee meeting, leaders give an update on the company’s customer experience delivery,” HBR explains.

Take these steps, and you’ll foster buyer advocacy. Customers will speak highly of your product to other consumers based on the relationships you’ve created with them. As a result, you’ll reach a broader audience more effectively, persuading them to try your product without even seeming like you’re actively working to sell them anything!