Thursday, December 11, 2014

Why Marketing Needs to Get Serious About Customer Success

By Jeb Dasteel and Amir Hartman
The difficult truth is that your customers don’t care about your innovation or your products; they care only about the result you can help them achieve. So while many companies believe they’re focused on their customers’ success, they’re really focused on their own success.
As we argued in our last post, a commitment to customer success is about ensuring that your organization is in fact aligned with the customer’s own metrics for their own success—not with your measures of success or your assumptions about how they measure theirs. Being truly focused on customer success means mindfully incorporating specific aspects of how your customers measure success into your own strategy and interactions with that customer.
In other words, if your customer is particularly focused on customer retention or renewal of annual contracts, you need to ensure that retention and renewal metrics are built into your approach to that customer. That approach ensures that your organization as a whole, and the teams and individuals working with the customer, will be successful if the customer is successful. Looking at this the other way around may be more instructive: If your customer isn’t successful, then you aren’t. Period.
This extends to the way organizations talk to customers as they go to market. Recent research by Mainstay indicates that today’s marketers spend the majority of their marketing dollars on developing assets and content describing product features. That insight is bolstered by Forrester Research figures, which show that close to 70% of business leaders find the materials companies provide them useless. Herein is the challenge for B2B organizations—translating what they do (their products and services) into a language that customers actually care about.
Making customer success part of your marketing DNA will enable you to engage customers in conversations about the business outcomes they want to achieve. In other words, your marketing should make your customer—not your products—the hero and centerpiece of the story you’re telling.
Start moving your marketing in the right direction by taking the following actions:
  • Ensure that more than 70% of your marketing and sales content is business-outcome focused.
  • Demand that your customer stories and conversations have a customer hero—someone who overcame a business challenge and helped his or her company drive positive, measurable results.
  • Develop a mechanism where your top customers can quantify and communicate the value you have delivered.
Bottom line: Only when you incorporate what drives success for your customers into your marketing and sales assets will you be able to market solutions they can’t get enough of.
Jeb Dasteel is Oracle’s senior vice president and chief customer officer. Amir Hartman is co-founder and managing director of Mainstay, and author of the recent book Ruthless Execution.