February 28, 2017

Customer-First Marketing Chart: Customers share how often companies put their needs first


In the past few weeks, we’ve shared data from a study with 2,400 consumers showing the efficacy of customer-first marketing.

But how often do companies practice customer-first marketing? And is there a difference between satisfied and unsatisfied customers’ perceptions? Read on to see our latest discoveries.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

In October 2016, we split 2,400 consumers into two groups. We asked half of the respondents to name a company they were satisfied with, and we asked the other 1,200 to name a company they were unsatisfied with.

We then asked several questions about their experience, including…

How much does [company name’s] marketing put your needs before its business goals?

To see 27 more charts from the study, download the free report.

Satisfied customers say the company’s marketing puts their needs before the company’s business goals more often

For satisfied customers, the most popular response (from 42% of respondents) was that the company they were satisfied with “often” puts their needs before its business goals.

For unsatisfied customers, the most popular responses (30% of respondents in each case) were that the company they were unsatisfied with “sometimes” or “seldom” puts their needs before its business goals.

Three commitments to shift from a product-first to problem-first worldview

“The MarketingSherpa study surfaces the incredible opportunity for the companies that are willing to shift from what I call a ‘product-first’ worldview to ‘problem-first.’ This requires three commitments,” said Tara-Nicholle Nelson, CEO of Transformational Consumer Insights (TCI) and author of The Transformational Consumer: Fuel a Lifelong Love Affair with Customers by Helping Them Get Healthier, Wealthier and Wiser.

According to Nelson, those three commitments are:

  • Rethink or re-envision what you sell: You don’t just sell a product. You sell a transformation, a solution to a human-level problem. Nelson is the former VP of Marketing at MyFitness Pal, and she used it as an example: “MyFitnessPal doesn’t just sell a calorie tracking app; they sell a life in which it is a little easier to be healthy than it was before,” she said.
  • Rethink your customer: Nelson recommends customer-journey mapping. But, she says, companies should “stop mapping customers’ journeys within their brand or walled gardens or owned channels, and to start mapping [customers’] real-world journeys trying to solve the problem the company exists to solve.”
  • Rethink your marketing: “Stop telling beautiful stories about your brand, and start delivering content that solves the real-world problems your customers experience,” Nelson says. “They are voracious for content that removes friction and pain points or inserts progress triggers along their journey.”

What is the mission of your marketing?

Of course, you have to get leads, conversions and, ultimately, sell products to keep your companies’ doors open. But if your company only sells products, you will eventually lose out in the long-run to the companies that satisfied customers say often put their needs first.

So take a good, hard look at what you sell and how you sell it. What is your company’s essential raison d'etre? Your marketing department’s? Selling a product is a secondary objective. Every marketing decision, every business process should ultimately help a customer overcome a problem or achieve a goal.

Related resources

Learn a methodology power by customer-first science in the Communicating Value and Web Conversion graduate certificate program from the University of Florida and MECLABS Institute (parent research organization of MarketingSherpa)

Marketing Chart: Does customer-centric marketing fall short of satisfying the customer?

Make Your Customer the Hero: How HCSS saw a 54% increase in annualized revenue without mentioning the product

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