A methodology I use for strategic thinking is based on customer-centric thinking. As I see it, customer is the only reason any organisation can exist and flourish and the centre of any B2B marketing strategy. No organisation can exist without someone accessing their products or services. Sure without a product or service you have nothing to sell. But if you have customers, you can find products or services that they will purchase; the opposite is not true.
The methodology is based on the Delta Model, developed by Dean Wilde and Arnoldo Hax and follows this framework:
- The customer is the centre of the strategy
As your customer is the reason for existence, they are driving force for all actions undertaken. As a result, any organisation must have significant value-added propositions that create unique wants or needs of the customer, or solves real customer “issues”.
- Success is not measured in comparison competitors, it’s measure by customer-bonding.
If the customer is your reason for existence, then the central focus of any strategy should be building strong, resilient ties with them. For this to succeed, the relationship must be transparent, fair to all parties (including stakeholders such as suppliers and staff) and based on an understanding of the real needs of that customer.
- Competitors are not to be feared
Competitive advantage may be important to provide a unique offer to your customers, but you also need to be able to clearly articulate those advantages to display transparency. As a result, your competitors have the potential to know as much about your products/services as your customers. That information cannot give them a competitive advantage over you: all they know is your product features but not which are the ones that truly drive the relationship.
- A product-focused mentality is constraining
So many businesses seem to be developing Value Propositions for their customers, yet they’re ignoring other key stakeholders in the success of an organisation: suppliers, staff, shareholders and regulators. I struggle to think of an organisation that can’t enhance their customer relationship through improving the outputs from their staff, the suppliers or from greater understanding and acceptance from shareholders and regulatory bodies. The product or service can always be improved from the support of these key stakeholders.
- Real customer understanding is critical: strategy is looking at one customer at a time.
The granular customer analysis is fundamental to build sensible and relevant customer segments. Each of us consumers have different influences, wants, needs and biases formed over years of learning and experience. The ultimate goal is to be able to communicate one-on-one with each customer, but the reality is a richer understanding of your customers beyond lifetime value or purchasing preferences ensures you keep the customer as central to your strategy and build stronger bonds with them.