A Customer Led Approach to Social Media

May I Help You

May I Help You

‘The first challenge of the twenty-first century is to master the changes that come with customers being in control. Companies that manage this transition effectively will thrive; those that don’t will fail………Customer differentiation is the key to success in the twenty-first century’
(Nykamp, 2001)

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with our concerns regarding the level of hype (noise) being generated about the so-called Inbound Marketing Revolution, associated mainly with the software vendor HubSpot (see list of previous articles later)

While we agree with some of the core propositions of Inbound Marketing e.g. that content should add value and help customers overcome ‘pain points’, the core underlying premise is wrong. According to HubSpot, ‘the fundamental task of marketers is to spread the word about their products and services in order to get people to buy them‘. This may have been true 50 years ago but not now.

Customer serviceIn a social media era, characterised by customer empowerment, new innovative ‘customer led’ approaches to sales, marketing and relationship management are required. If the above quote from Nykamp was true in 2001, it is even more true a decade later.

The fundamental task of marketers today should not be to convince people to buy stuff. No-one listens to sales messages any more! The key task should be to leverage the full potential of social media for delivering exceptional customer experiences, especially for your ‘Most Valuable’ and ‘Most Growable’ customers. That way you create music rather than adding to the noise (content) already out there threatening to drown us in a sea of mediocrity. The resulting increase in customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy establishes a strong foundation for sustained business growth and profitability. By creating music rather than noise, you achieve brand differentiation and long-term customer and competitive advantage.

In an increasingly competitive business environment where the ‘Customer is King’, it is the quality of your customer base, the strength of the relationship you have with them and your ability to leverage your most valuable customers that provide you with a source of sustained growth and competitiveness. The key question to ask is not ‘how can we use social media to catch more fish’ as recommended by Inbound Marketers. Instead, ask yourself, how can we use social media to strengthen the relationship we have with our existing, most profitable customers? I think you will be surprised by the ‘actionable insights’ derived when you start to think from the ‘outside-in’ rather than from the ‘inside-out’. Once you get it right for existing high value customers, finding new ones becomes that bit easier.

Customer Service CloudOver the next few weeks, we will be posting a number of articles encouraging you to adopt a ‘customer led’ approach to social strategy development and implementation. Our hope is that we can encourage you to think differently about what you are doing and why? – think from the ‘outside-in’ rather than from the ‘inside-out’.

Rather than using social media to ‘lay the bait’ in the hope that the fish will bite, as argued in a recent HubSpot article, we will show how social media, used properly, can provide you with a solid foundation for sustained business growth and profitability through building a ‘Quality Customer Base’.

Adopting an ‘outside-in customer led’ approach to social media will deliver the following business benefits:

– Concentration of effort and resource on `quality’ customers – your ‘Most Valuable’ and ‘Most Growable’ customers

– Build learning relationships with them allowing you to better service their emerging needs and wants through highly customised and personalised products and services

– Maximise customer retention, loyalty and advocacy

– Maximise customer ‘Up’ and ‘Cross’ selling opportunities

– Maximise customer profitability and lifetime value

– Acquiring new `quality’ customers becomes easier because you have got it right for existing customers

– Improved value delivery to existing high value customers

– Cost savings and improved marketing/sales efficiency through targeting limited resources on `quality’ customers (actual and potential)

– Building sustained customer and competitive advantage through customer differentiation

– Erection of loyalty barriers preventing your competitors from stealing your `best’ customers.

As usual, comment and feedback are very welcome. Do you know any organisations who are ‘customer led’ in their approach to social media?

To ensure that you are notified of future posts in this series, why not register to receive e-mail up-dates of new Energise posts (top right hand side of this page).

Jim, Alan, Vincent

Related articles to this post include:

Are You a Fish or a Sheep?
Socialise the Customer Experience
I Am Not a Suspect
Drowning in a Sea of Noise

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