Marketing

4 ways marketing leaders are becoming more customer-led

4 ways marketing leaders are becoming more customer-led

CMOs who want a longer tenure need to take customer-centricity seriously. According to Forrester, marketing leaders are now expected to be at the forefront of customer experience initiatives. In addition to traditional marketing responsibilities like branding and storytelling, CMOs today also need to use their analytics and customer intelligence expertise to drive revenue and sales.

As a CMO from a global company says in an IBM study, a marketing leader today “has to become the custodian of the customer experience, not just the head of the ‘arts and crafts’ department.”

CMOs are starting to rise to the customer-centricity challenge. Here are four recent examples of marketing leaders who are driving business results by getting closer to their customers. 

1. Tabcorp CMO overhauls technology to put customers first

Claire Murphy, CMO of gaming operator Tabcorp, transformed the role of marketing by putting customers at the center. Murphy initiated the change so that marketing could focus on “what the customer wants, needs, thinks and feels.”

Under Murphy’s leadership, the company invested heavily in a CRM platform to gain a 360-degree view of the customer. She also initiated a Voice of the Customer platform to hear directly from customers, and a company-wide NPS tool to gauge customer satisfaction.

Murphy’s goal was to ensure that every staff member at Tabcorp had a direct sight of the customer. While the long-term results are yet to be seen, one of Tabcorp’s previously failing brands has already shown revenue growth of 4.8 percent since Murphy’s strategic customer-first changes.

2. Marketing leader at Levi’s uses customer insight to influence product line

According to Michael Perman, former senior director of global marketing at Levi Strauss, CMOs can use customer insight to expand their footprint in the company. For instance, during his time at Levi’s, Perman helped one of the product teams by introducing design principles built on customer empathy.

Perman’s team spent time observing customers in their day-to-day environment, seeking to understand their ideals and beliefs beyond basic feedback about Levi jeans. Through that exercise, the team discovered that a significant number of Levi’s customers led bike-centric lifestyles. That insight inspired Levi’s breakthrough Commuter jeans product line, a move experts hail as a strategic shift for the revitalization of the 100-year old brand.

Perman’s story demonstrates how a customer-led approach benefits not just sales and marketing. Customer insight can also shape the product roadmap.

3. Barnes & Noble College CMO leads College Insights platform

Barnes & Noble College operates the campus bookstores for 771 colleges in the United States. According to CMO Lisa Malat, “We have a front-row seat to Millennial and Gen Z students…Their voices informed and inspired our transformation from being just the campus bookstore to what we are today—a social and academic hub on campus.”

Malat led an initiative to deeply understand the company’s customers. Barnes & Noble College launched  a College Insights platform, a network of more than 10,000 students, parents, faculty and alumni, that contributed to nearly 60 research studies and 100 quick polls in 2016 alone. Through the platform, Barnes & Noble College gained a better understanding of customer preferences on messaging, sales channels and promotions. As a result of deeper shopper insight, the company saw a 35 percent year-over-year increase in its Cyber Monday sales.

Watch our webinar with Barnes & Noble College for more info on how the company finds success in the retail sector.

4. St. Louis Cardinals’ VP focuses on better experience…and boosts attendance

The St. Louis Cardinals has the second-highest attendance rate in Major League Baseball, thanks in part to an unusually customer-centric marketing philosophy. In fact, Dan Farrell, VP of sales and marketing at the Cardinals, received a customer experience honor from The CMO Club for his leadership.

Rather than relying on new marketing campaigns to draw fans, Farrell’s team focuses on the basics of a great baseball experience: cleanliness, safety, entertaining inning breaks and friendly staff. The team collects guest experience surveys after each game, summarizes and compares data trends over time, and holds regular feedback forums with season ticket holders. One result of their customer exploration has been an increased focus on promotional giveaways. As a direct response to fan feedback, the Cardinals increased both the quality and quantity of giveaway promotions at their games.

Farrell’s experience-first marketing strategy helps keep the Cardinals in the coveted three-million-a-year attendance club, a feat reserved for the top eight or nine teams in the league.

Customers are your most important stakeholders

Customer-led CMOs know that a failure to put the customer first could threaten their career and pose an immediate revenue risk to the company. As these examples show, being customer-led requires directly engaging with consumers and gaining an understanding of their needs and wants. Without customer intelligence as a starting point, your business won’t be able to satisfy customers.

To begin creating a comprehensive plan for gaining more customer insight, take a look at the Enterprise Guide to Customer Intelligence.

Enterprise Guide to Customer Intelligence



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