Discovering what your customers really want

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Do you truly know what your target audience wants, needs and requires of you? As b-to-b marketers, we must have a clear and accurate answer to this question to stay viable and cut through the messaging mayhem in our oversaturated, overmessaged world. There is little room for messaging error, and customers will disconnect from your brand unless you speak to them from the basis of knowing them. To achieve this level of clarity and precision, we need to turn to data to crack the code. Data is a popular topic. However, the information alone does not hold significant value. It is when we extract rich, actionable insights from the data that we see significant improvements in marketing response, revenue and ROI. Through a practice called “precision marketing,” companies around the globe have improved customer engagement as measured by revenue and ROI. Precision marketing is using data-driven customer insights to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time in the right channel. It employs data analytics to reveal predispositions, then homes in on the power of what's personal and relevant. As global competition intensifies and available communication channels explode, the pressure to appeal to individual needs, preferences and priorities has never been greater. As b-to-b marketers, we often know and embrace our customers, as opposed to many b-to-c marketers that have millions of consumers to address. The ability to expand our customer relationships—based on deep insights about each customer—is paramount to our continued success. Relationships matter, and they are best built on deep insights. What should we as marketers do to get started in leveraging our data to generate better results? My suggestion is to start with one objective and one campaign; use the data you already have in-house, conduct a simple analysis and then run test- versus-control campaigns to measure the difference in results. This way, you can capture and quantify the value of the data-driven insights. From here, you learn, append and repeat. This approach is shown in the steps below that comprise the framework of precision marketing, which has been employed across industries, geographies and channels—all with strong, measurable, positive results in response, revenue and ROI: 1) Determine your objective. 2) Gather the data. 3) Analyze and model. 4) Strategize. 5) Deploy. 6) Measure. The bottom line is that leveraging data to “crack the code” and use customer insights as the foundation of your marketing is well worth the journey. Adopting new marketing practices takes time and effort, and is a “go and grow” strategy. The journey is worthwhile, and the most important step of any journey is the very first one. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “There are many ways of going forward but only one way of standing still.” Sandra Zoratti is VP-marketing, executive briefings and education at Ricoh and co-author of “Precision Marketing: Maximizing Revenue Through Relevance” (Kogan Page, 2012). She can be reached at [email protected]
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