Focus on the customer!
Some may still be familiar with Michael Porter's bestseller, ‘Competitive Advantage’. There’s no doubt that many strategies from this book are still highly applicable — the book is a legend for good reason. But more and more often, we're hearing the term customer advantage. Does this signify the end of the era of competitive advantage?
In competitive advantage, you place your focus on your competitor and how you can be one step ahead of them: how you can offer the same thing at a better price, or charge more because you offer better quality.
‘Customer advantage is your goal; competitive advantage is your result’
With focus on the customer, the customer lies at the heart of your strategy. It doesn’t really matter what your competitor is up to. It’s about what your customer wants, and how you can best fulfill their customer need. The end of the era of competitive advantage? Not so! Customer advantage is your goal; competitive advantage is your result.
The customer is your raison d'être
Now there are many companies that claim to be customer-centric, but in practice, are they really? The important thing is that you truly know your customer, know what they want, and are able to provide that proactively — not reactively. That’s quite something. Just like your CRM strategy, this concept must permeate your entire organization. Every part makes a contribution to the realization of customer advantage. It’s not just a term you include in some policy documents; it has to be a fully developed part of your culture. It’s something every employee lives and breathes. Whatever you decide to call it — culture, CRM strategy, objectives: the customer is what gives your organization its reason for being.
CRM & marketing automation
Fortunately, a number of systems are available that can support the process of putting the central focus on the customer. Like CRM software combined with marketing automation. These tools aid in always keeping a finger on the pulse and generating customer insights in real time. That real-time speed of information is important, because what’s trendy today will be dated tomorrow. In other words: past results are no guarantee for the future. Continuous measurement, testing, adjustments, and keeping a close eye on technological innovations — these are the only ways to keep track of what’s on your customer’s mind today. Leaning back and waiting to see what happens simply isn’t an option anymore.
Added value remains the foundation
Is all this scary? Perhaps, but there's some small comfort: the basics of marketing itself haven’t changed all that much. The rapid change in this field is due to the technology and how it is used. But ultimately, it was always about how your organization could make a difference for others. What added value have you got to offer? To whom? And how do you reach those people? So keep a close eye on new developments, and take advantage of the technology that is available to you.