Marketing Strategy

One key sentence to put the customer first

Customer first, customer-centricity.  You know the drill.

Putting the customer at the heart of the matter is the Big Thing (I’ll leave arguments about how it should always have been the Big Thing to one side for now).

Here’s something I’ve developed that might just help you get ahead of the crowd and really put your customer where they want to be – first.

What I’m about to tell you is remarkably simple.

And, more to the point, will work.

You only need to write one sentence into your business plan to become truly customer focussed.

And that sentence is this:

“I want ‘____(who)______’ to ‘_____(what)______’ by ‘___(how)_____'”

The hard part is filling in the blanks.

But there’s a key to this.


Be specific about who you are targeting, what they need to do and the behaviour that they’ll need to display to achieve it.

This will force you to consider the customer’s exact needs throughout the process.

In the old way of thinking, this sentence would have been ‘You’-centric.

“I want students to draw great pictures by using my pencils.”

BONG. Wrong.

The student doesn’t want to use your pencils.  I can pretty much guarantee that.

What they do want to use is the pencil that’s right for the job, that’s best value and feels right in their hand.

Your pencil may, or may not, be it.

Turning this on its head, we get:

“I want students to draw great pictures by understanding the difference between pencils and choosing the one that’s right for their needs.”

See the difference?

Oh and your blog post about the technical difference between pencils’ shading abilities and which ones work best for which application is suddenly required reading for all fine art students.  Who buy pencils.  Which you happen to sell…

There’s a secret underlying this.


Using the formula above, you’re thinking not only about needs but about behaviours as well.

What does the customer need to do to get what they need?

Marketing is all about behaviour.

It’s not about sales, because they come later.

And marketing isn’t about you.  It’s about your customer.

So focus on what your customer needs and the behaviours they need to exhibit to satisfy those needs.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll find that your marketing strategy starts to grow organically without losing sight of its true heart – the customer.

Neil Hopkins is a Marketing and Branding Theorist at heart, and a Marketing Communications Manager by day. His blog – interacter – is the primary location he shares insight and information relating to marketing, branding and advertising strategy.
You can follow Neil on Twitter, circle him (like an escaped bull) on Google+ or track him down in any number of other ways.

Photo courtesy of dichohecho on Flickr.  Why a flower?  Because it’s cold and dark outside, and I want you to be happy by taking in an image of beauty.


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