How “customer-centric” content improves your ROI
We’re told that “keeping close to your customer” enables business success. “Understanding them”. “Walking in their shoes”.
This all boils down to another term: customer-centricity. I want to explain (in plain English) why such an approach is great news for creating content that works.
Think about a company you love buying from. Maybe it’s a high street retailer. Or your local coffee shop. Even a fabulous supplier at work.
Their products probably fit your needs well. You feel understood by them. Supported, even. And they say the right thing at the right time (using the kind of words you get).
They’re a customer-centric business.
In B2B marketing, Gartner says customer-centricity concerns understanding your customers’ situations, perceptions, and expectations. You then use this to create customer-focused decisions. It impacts your product development, the way you do business, and the way you communicate.
This makes sense.
When you’re talking to someone face to face, you listen. You respond to their questions and can ask them to explain what you don’t understand. Plus, you use words that align with theirs. This approach ALWAYS works better than talking “at” someone, with no regard for what they actually want to hear from you.
Becoming customer-centric simply scales this approach. You’ve got lots of customers, so it takes more effort. It’s not an overnight job. Nor is it a one-off job. Becoming truly customer-centric takes time and constant review.
Good question. After all, you’re selling products, right? That’s your main focus.
I hear you. But research proves that “customer-centric” businesses are more successful.
Take the 2023 survey that Vantage Partners did in collaboration with the Strategic Account Management Association (SAMA). It included 250 people from 180 B2B companies. The main takeaway was this…
Companies reporting “very mature” customer-centricity achieved 2.5X revenue growth compared with those reporting “very immature”
And yet, according to B2B International Research, only 14% of large organisations are truly customer-centric. But that’s changing quickly.
Take tech giant, IBM. It’s made customer experience an effective retention tool. Each customer has a team of specialists on hand to help them smoothly integrate their purchase into their organisation. Meanwhile, messaging platform Slack depends on customer feedback to modify features in line with changing expectations and needs.
Being customer-centric is a competitive advantage. It helps you develop the right products, attract and retain customers more easily, and build a trusted reputation throughout your target audience.
Taking a customer-centric approach to content creation
A fundamental part of B2B marketing, you want your content to be as effective as possible. For most, that means bringing ideal customers into your sales funnel and moving them closer to purchasing.
So, how about creating the content your audience needs and wants?
The more you understand them, the easier it is to do this. Address their learning needs, adjust their misconceptions, handle their questions, and help them make effective choices.
By creating customer-centric content you’ll increase engagement. More traffic, more comments, more enquiries. In fact, when your content hits the spot it’s more likely to be shared.
Customer-aligned content also builds your credibility faster and helps them trust you. These are two necessary things ahead of achieving a sale. And importantly, customer alignment means you waste less of your content creation budget on assets that don’t deliver.
Whether it’s a social post, an article, or an eBook, it’s smarter to create content that provides the value your ideal customers need.
What does customer-centric content look like?
Ok, so you see the benefit. Let’s consider how you could action this in your B2B content. If you first want guidance on how to understand your audience better, my eBook should help.
In the meantime, here are six practical ways to create customer-centric content.
#1 Address their pain points
Once you understand what’s bothering your prospective customers you can create content to help. By showing you understand them (truly understand) they’ll be more likely to read your advice.
You might discuss and compare the options available to them (one of which could be your product) or provide guidance on what they should be looking for. You could highlight the pitfalls to avoid or provide research that shows them the way forward.
Whatever you do, keep relevant to their pain points, and your deep understanding of them.
#2 Segmented content
Got different groups of customers? No problem. Consider what specific content could help each segment. Take customer stories for example – do you have assets aligned to each group? The more in tune the story is to their business sector, demographic, or specific need, the more it will resonate with them.
Develop a list of potential stories you could create then check you’re covering all your bases. And when you’re creating them, think carefully about the challenges and needs that specific segment of your audience has. When you let your customers lead the story, that becomes much easier.
#3 Use customer feedback
Your existing customers will know what your prospective customers need to hear. So, ask them. Then use this insight to shape your customer-centric content.
Ask them what they were struggling with before they purchased from you. Ask them what questions or fears they had at that time. Know how they were feeling and what they wanted to achieve.
Discover this via phone calls, face-to-face chats, or surveys. I favour picking up the phone. If you have an event coming up though, consider what feedback you could gather from it.
#4 Educational content
When you understand what they need to know, you can zoom right in and fill their knowledge gaps. Many B2B purchases need upfront learning, so create an eBook that does exactly that. Or a series of “how to” articles written at their level.
Tech companies often find this tricky. Something they see as simple can utterly baffle others. By speaking with your customers (and prospects) you’ll know what level to start at. And beware techie jargon – stick to plain English so everyone benefits.
#5 Tell stories they want to hear
We all love browsing Amazon or Tripadvisor reviews. They’re (mainly) written by people who’ve been in our shoes. What they appreciate about something often relates to what we’re looking for.
In B2B, customer stories fill this important “review” need. First-hand accounts of how they resolved a problem or achieved a transformation. And when that story is in your customer’s words, your prospects will appreciate it. Like a work contact telling you about something that might help you.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you can write “case studies” without customer insight. All too often they’re seen as a sales tool. And many have an unhealthy dose of self-serving language like “we”, “marketing-leading”, and “innovative”. Let your customers tell their stories in their own words.
#6 Collaborative content
When you create a valuable piece of content with your customer, you both benefit. I’ve seen clients achieve this with webinars. Sometimes they’ve used a Q&A approach. On other occasions, they’ve supported their customer as they explain business improvements thanks to the product in question.
You could also collaborate to create long-form content such as eBooks or reports. Consider a “state of the market” style report. Take a trending topic that matters to your audience, interview a handful of your customers, or carry out a survey. Their insight would be valuable to others in the sector – your prospective customers.
Become their go-to supplier
Like a good friendship, the more value a prospective customer gets from you, the more they’ll want to spend time with you. And in business terms, that means revenue.
Creating content demands time and resources. Spending this on assets more likely to achieve results makes marketing sense.
Customer-centricity might feel like yet another term the business gurus have dreamt up, but it has serious legs. Because when you truly understand your target audience, you can align your communication with exactly what they need and want to hear. And from there, you’re far closer to welcoming them as a new customer.