Shift to Customer-Centric Marketing Briefs

January 19, 2016
Contributor: Chris Pemberton

Reorient the focus of your marketing brief to customers and their needs.

A national retailer chain invested over half its marketing funds in TV and print despite knowing customers used DIY websites for inspiration and online discussion forums to learn and search for project materials. The retailer saw sales decline across customer segments and awareness decrease while underfunding its DIY website, digital commerce site, social marketing and digital advertising.

As a result, the retailer shifted to a marketing brief and planning process that focused more on customer needs and relevant channels. This enabled the merchant to find and fund different channel opportunities to better influence customer behavior.

If you want your marketing program to appeal to customers, take the focus off the channels and put it on the customers, noted Jennifer Polk, research director, Gartner for Marketing Leaders.

Replace the traditional or channel-specific marketing brief with a marketing brief that uses customer analytics to consider all channels and tactics to maximize marketing programs.


Focus on the customer

A customer-centric marketing brief starts with the voice of the customer. It must shift from what you know about your company to what you need to know about the customer to create a compelling experience. The objectives of a customer-centric marketing brief are built around the customer’s buying journey and goals tied to business results, not objectives based solely on company objectives.

Ask three questions to ensure the voice of customer is being heard:

  • Who are your customers, prospects or the members of your target audience?
  • How do your customers behave, and why (underlying values and beliefs)?
  • How can marketing influence their beliefs and behaviors to create mutual value?

Look across channels

Marketing channel choices are often based on predetermined budget allocations, past program performance, company preferences and risk aversion. This approach can lock marketers into channels such as TV because a budget has already been earmarked for this familiar tactic.

Shift to a marketing brief that is inherently channel-agnostic to find different choices that better influence customer behavior. Choose channels and tactics most relevant to the customer, and most likely to influence their decision and drive results.

Ask three more questions to ensure the brief looks across channels:

  • What is the customer buying journey that connects buyers to your products?
  • What parts of that journey do you need to influence to drive business outcomes?
  • Which marketing channels align to those parts of the journey for your audience?

Enroll multiple experts

When building a customer-centric, channel-agnostic brief, engaging experts from relevant disciplines is the name of the game. The marketing manager who typically authors the brief will need to enroll experts across marketing disciplines, such as media buying, mobile marketing and social marketing, who can provide in-depth knowledge, contribute ideas throughout planning and execution, and lead program implementation and integration.

Ask these questions to ensure key experts are involved:

  • Have you built time into the planning process for each team member to review and contribute to the brief?
  • Have ideas from all disciplines been considered and data used to validate those ideas?
  • Are multichannel campaign management tools being used to orchestrate, automate and optimize tactics?
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