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One of the most crucial pieces of information that businesses must understand is customers are in control. Customers are smarter now, more than ever before, causing a heightened expectation of businesses delivering an excellent experience. Customers know what good service is and expect it every time. Furthermore, customers understand how businesses are marketing to them and have the ability to pick and choose whom they will remain loyal to, whether it’s a service or a product offering.

Businesses have the tendency to decide what they will market to their customers, especially online. Then, based on feedback and trends, a company will decide what their customers will see; companies want to put the right product in front of the right customer at the right time. However, the most successful companies listen to their customers. These companies, instead of looking at the Big Data, trends from the masses, look at the little data, customer’s individual behaviors. By leveraging technology and utilizing little data, companies can create a more personalized experience for the customer.

A group of all types of people standing with dialogue thought boxes above their heads.

Customers are in control when making a decision about a product or service. Source: Google Images.

Customers no longer respond to in-you-face marketing but rather rely on recommendations from trusted sources, friends, or social media. Online review sites, such as Yelp or Angie’s list have the power to sway or convince a customer’s buying decisions. Furthermore, individuals seek fast and efficient help or information when making a purchasing decision. Long sales pitches, marketing brochures or magazines, and billboards do not suffice anymore for influencing customers. Today’s customers lack trust, time, and have no patience for traditional marketing.

Marketing to a customer needs and desires is a difficult and complex task. In essence marketers need to work in conjunction with sales operations in order to show a customer what they need, what the service or product offering can do for them, and why the product or service is a better solution for their needs compared to anyone else’s product or service. Brands must easily demonstrate that their product or service has an advantage over competitors. The best brands market to people, not to statistics.

In designing a new product and service, many companies focus on technical details, such as what new features can be created or what cool things can the product or service do. However, by trying to do too much or creating too technical of features, things can easily get out of hand. Based on a recent piece released by Forbes, the question of what to create should always come back to the customer. Companies need to focus on answering questions such as: “What problems does the customer have, what does the customer want, and how can we create something that helps the customer?” Each new product or service idea needs to be in line with what a customer wants or needs.

To build a truly marketable product or service offering, companies need to focus on the customer as the core. Companies, to remain competitive, must think of the customer and customer service as a factor that encompasses the entire buying cycle, not just a post or pre sale activity. Customers consistently expect top-notch service and assistance when choosing a product or service. Therefore, in order for companies to grow their business and gain a competitive edge they must focus on the customer as a way to enhance their marketing efforts in order to turn customers into loyal brand advocates.

From a marketing management perspective, here are some questions to consider:

  • Research strategies in which companies are focusing on to supply products and services that aligns with a customer’s needs and wants.
  • What do you think are the most important factors to research when designing a new product for a customer?
  • How can technology enable companies to better understand their customers?