In today’s age of personalization, “putting customers before the strategy” has taken on a whole new meaning. Brands everywhere are doubling down on the way they set up and market to customer life cycles, and many marketers are thinking backwards starting with the customer before creating new experiences and initiatives.

The push for putting customers at the head of a marketing strategy is a good start, but what does it really mean for a brand to have a customer focus? How is setting up a customer-focused marketing strategy different from traditional customer-centric marketing?

One of the biggest hurdles in creating a loyalty-driving marketing strategy is confusing customer-focused marketing with customer-centric marketing. Although they sound similar, the concepts and strategy behind each is quite different. Let’s break it down.

Customer-focused vs. Customer-centric

Customer-focused marketing is defined as offering customers a consistently great and relevant experience across all touch points (Dr. Peter Fader, author of Customer Centricity). This might seem like a marketing no-brainer, but crafting a true customer focus is no easy feat. From the first time a potential customer discovers your brand to every interaction they have with you, their experience should be beautiful, easy, and effective.

On the other hand, customer-centric marketing is defined as looking at a customer’s lifetime value and focusing your marketing efforts on the high-value customer segment in order to drive profits (Dr. Peter Fader, author of Customer Centricity). Basically, customer-centric marketing puts the customer at the center of a marketing strategy to gain as much return as possible.

Put simply, customer-focused marketing means asking yourself, “What more can I give to my customers?” and customer-centric marketing means asking yourself, “What more can we get out of them?” When customers experience your brand, they’ll always ask the question, “What’s in it for me?” before they purchase or engage. Customer-focused marketing helps make the answer(s) to this question obvious as it helps brands offer a reciprocally loyal experience. Although there is truth and necessity behind both marketing strategies, you have to give in order to get to build a reciprocal relationship between your customers.

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Customer Focus Builds Loyalty

Even though there are benefits to both customer-focused and customer-centric marketing, it’s important to remember that customer-centric marketing only places priority on a brand’s highest valued customer cohort. Focusing solely on one customer group leaves a large portion of your customers untapped and unmarketed to, which means you’re passing up a huge opportunity to build loyalty. How do you plan to move customers into your high-value cohort if you ignore the majority? High-value customers don’t typically start out as high-value customers, and it’s important to nurture each group in your customer lifecycle equally to yield maximum results in fostering loyalty.

For the best chance at building lasting customer loyalty, most companies should aim for a nice balance of both customer focus and customer centricity within their marketing strategies. Customer-focused marketing is at the core of delivering a personalized, relevant experience to every customer, which is the first step toward fostering loyalty. However, putting high-value customers at the center of product creation is also important in building loyalty.

Let’s look at an example of company who does this well.

Nike’s Customer Focus

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Nike is a rock star at implementing a successful customer-centric and customer-focused marketing strategy. Not only has Nike adopted a customer-focused approach to their marketing and loyalty building, but they’ve put the customer at the center of their product creation.

With Nike, you get everything you need to start training, from workout gear to water bottles to equipment and more. Once you’ve purchased your gear, you can engage with the brand on a variety of personal levels, from apps to track your fitness progress to engaging with the brand through their various online channels. No matter your level of competitive fitness, you as an athlete are at the heart of everything Nike does.

What Nike has been able to accomplish through their integrated marketing strategy is making every customer feel like they are at the heart of their marketing efforts, and that their products and services focus on each customer with their individual needs top-of-mind. Nike is a fantastic example of customer-focused marketing done right.

 Wrapping it Up

Whether your brand currently places customers at the center of your marketing efforts or focuses on giving them a relevant experience across all touch points, one thing is for certain: keeping your customers’ best interests at heart, whenever possible, is the best way to build a reciprocal, long-lasting loyal relationship. Creating a nice mix of customer focus and customer centricity throughout your marketing efforts is bound to yield the best results for both your brand and its customers.

Which side of the fence does your brand currently fall on? Have you been able to bridge the gap by incorporating both strategies into the mix? Share your thoughts in the comments below!