The essentials of customer marketing are basic tools that every marketer today should use when developing integrated marketing communications. I have outlined these 8 essential toolbox items below.
1. Authenticity. Customer marketing must be authentic and direct to the point. Though for many businesses, personalized communications tailored to an individual are cost prohibitive. But marketing can engage segments of 200 customers rather than 200,000 using an authentic voice that is not presumptive and does not ingratiate itself with the audience.
2. Transparency. Customer marketing communications are transparent, straightforward and honest to deliver on promises. They're not disingenuous, with hidden conditions or caveats that are buried in the small print. So avoid complex language, excessive marketing ‘buzz’ words and tech-speak. If your product is technical then put the top 5 points in a call-out box using short bullets and avoid a laundry list of product features.
3. Simplicity. Customer marketing production should be simple and unvarnished rather than slick or glossy. Online, each page loads fast and is functional with informative-engaging content, practical customer information and tools. The website doesn’t need a ‘skip the intro’ button because it’s not flashy or pretentious plus it has an intuitive site-map and page layout designed for - and tested by - actual customers.
4. Insightful. Content reflects real personal or small business issues with an empathetic tone of voice. David Meerman Scott suggests that when you understand your customers’ unique problems you can then create buyer personas and tailor the communication content. This content should be straight-forward, non-complicated and does not over or under inflate the importance of issues. If content is not meaningful, informative, helpful or entertaining, or have genuine value, it’s just forgettable and a waste of your clients or company’s money.
5. Actionable. The communications have actionable content and any offers are relevant and tailored to the needs of the consumer or small business owner. It’s now time to ditch those highly promotional brochures filled with marketing fluff and sales hyperbole.
6. Organic. Any content is realistic and relevant to the customers visiting your website today. Your copy uses actual customer quotes or customer language and not something staged, highly polished and dreamed up by an office copywriter with no knowledge of the customer.
7. Personal. With the choice of channel from direct mail, email, online, radio, press, TV, direct sales and mobile, delivering unique content through the correct channel, at the best time is vital for effective customer marketing. Since the delivery channel is the first contact in the customer experience, personalize it by using registered mail, live stamps, clean outer envelopes, opt-in email addresses and phone numbers. Massed produced, non-personalized mail and promotional outer envelopes are cheap but ultimately drive low response rates, generate a poor brand experience and wasteful. Seth Godin talks about permission marketing and treating people with respect as the best way to earn their attention. If the customer has not ‘opted-in’ then any contact is just spam or cold-calling.
8. Intelligent. Of course selectively use humor in your communications but avoid child-like fun, slapstick comedy and puns. Humor should use an intelligent wit, with deep truths rooted in the customer experience. Try getting your best customers to share their experiences to inform and educate others. Gather relevant industry experts in panels or forums to discuss the latest trends and post relevant topics or white-papers on your website to provide inside information to help your audience.