Most industries are faced with an ever-growing number of competitors, allowing customers to choose the most suitable supplier to meet their needs. This makes it vital for organisations to ensure that they remain in touch with their clients’ requirements.
Client requirements change continually owing to a number of factors, including changes in life style and, more relevant of late, the state of the economy. The natural shifts in life cycle also cause customers to change their buying behaviour.
With all this in mind, marketing leaders are forced to reconsider their approach to traditional marketing methods. This requires organisations to understand their customers’ definition of value. Many experts have stated that the key to long-term success is to profitably meet customers’ needs better than the competitors can.
According to marketing experts today, more emphasis is being placed on marketing leaders to drive an internal behaviour change. This means that work must continuously be done on finding ways to improve, transform, modify and deliver high levels of customer service.
This entails focusing on internal and external customers to drive alignment between what customers want and the delivery thereof. Closing the gap between company needs and customer needs will equate to higher levels of success for the organisation. Companies’ needs will differ according to their strategic objectives and the dynamic markets they operate in.
The aim is for marketing not only to focus on the external customer but also the internal customer. Working with the other functions within the organisation to aim for alignment of both the company and its customers. The outside-in approach, with a further inside-out alignment.
This approach requires buy-in from all functions within the organisation, as well as each employee, to be customer focused. It requires the organisation to remunerate customer-centric behaviour, and for marketing to work with human resources to start the process from the moment employees come on board, thus making the approach part of the company’s DNA. Every employee needs to focus on driving value and continuously improving customer experience.
An approach of this nature also requires the CEO to give marketing leaders more power, allowing marketing to work side by side with the CEO, not only to define the strategy but also to drive it. This in turn requires the marketing leaders to illustrate their value when it comes to adding to the bottom line in a more visible manner.
Marketing leaders also need to spend time understanding customer issues and linking the companies issues, getting involved and becoming problem solvers. Marketing leaders should take time to stay close to what is happening from an external perspective in the customers’ world and within the organisation. We live in a dynamic environment that continues to add pressure on our customers and our organisation, focus on each of our stakeholder’s priorities.
The role of marketing leaders has changed. Marketers need to be at the forefront of this change, and become the go-to person, both internally and externally. Marketers also need to play the role of linking internal customers with the company’s priorities. If there is no alignment between them, the marketer needs to be the voice of the customer.
Belinda Wagner is a faculty member at USB-ED, external facilitator, life coach, consultant, lecturer, mentor and supervisor. Her fields of interest are marketing, coaching and personal development.