Customer Marketing Framework: A Blueprint for Success

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The benefits of customer retention and cross-sell/upsell are well-documented. For instance, common principles like the 80/20 rule and how much cheaper it is to retain, rather than gain a customer are quoted often. So,  instead of trying to convince you of customer marketing’s benefits, this post will offer a blueprint for success:  Get ready for a look behind the yellow and teal curtain of Shift Paradigm as we outline the framework we use to assess, optimize and implement the customer marketing objectives of our clients. 

Customer Marketing Framework

Marketing is a complex discipline filled dependencies, most of which are known by marketers. However, what we tend to find in client engagements is one of two things have happened which keep marketing’s outcomes from achieving business objectives:

  1. Due to the size and structure of the marketing team(s) and the business overall, teams silo decision-making and their motions end up divorced from the larger strategy
  2. Invisible problems derail progress

Our Growth Paradigm Framework resolves both scenarios. Let’s take a look:

Often, when future customers approach us, the problem they’ve identified is something at the top of the staircase — the programs. We challenge our clients to start at the foundation, at the bottom of the staircase — and begin by focusing on their strategy. Read on as we walk through this process for customer marketing.  

Is Customer Marketing Right for You?

The savviest CMOs we consult are well aware that their marketing strategies must stem from — and support — the overarching corporate strategy of the company in order to drive growth. Curious how to do this? We wrote about it here. Ask yourself the following questions to get started:

  • How much market penetration does our business have?
  • Do we have high market segment penetration but low share of wallet?
  • Is expanding into new accounts a big part of our growth plan?
  • Is there a lot of opportunity to cross-sell and upsell our existing customer base?

How you answer these questions (and if you can answer them) will inform how much of your strategic efforts (and budget) should be directed toward customer marketing, if any.

A Customer Marketing Example

Keep in mind that not all organizations’ customer marketing needs are alike. A single-product SaaS company will have very different needs in this area than a SaaS platform brand.. The single-product SaaS company will likely require some light customer marketing, but new customer acquisition will surely reign supreme. Alternatively, the SaaS platform company might spend as much as half of its efforts and budget on customer marketing, because much of its growth strategy hinges on developing existing customer relationships.

Once you confirm customer marketing fits into your larger organizational strategy, it’s time to dig into your actual customer marketing framework. Our frameworks all have the same five components: Strategy, Planning, Process, Development and Execution.

Customer Marketing Blueprint

Customer Marketing Strategy

The strategy phase is the first and most critical component of the customer marketing framework. It includes:

  • Organizational Alignment: Who do you need to align with internally? Most customer marketing departments or programs require deep collaboration with customer success and sales, and quite frequently product teams.
  • Customer Segmentation: Do certain segments of your customers offer more opportunity than others?
  • Buyer & User Personas: Do you have accurate, updated buyer personas created that can be used to develop your strategy?

Keep in mind that how you’ve segmented your customers, and the corresponding personas, will be used to rank and prioritize where you spend your effort, depending on where you have low penetration and where you have high potential within accounts.

TIP: Ensure your personas are built off of hard-and-fast data points, not just generic concepts. Eventually, the strategic elements of customer marketing must be operationalized and you’ll need personas with enough meat on the bones to make that happen. For more on this, check out our article, How to Create Buyer Personas You Can Actually Use.”

  • Objectives & KPIs

Have you determined concrete goals and metrics for your strategy? Again using a SaaS company as an example, onboarding and enablement would be the focuses.. Objectives would center on getting more people into the platform and making them comfortable with it, and KPIs would concentrate on user engagement. A different company in a different industry might shape its objectives around engaging buyers, and then demonstrating further use cases of other service offerings, and establish different KPIs to measure success.

Customer Marketing Plan

The customer marketing plan is an area where we see a lot of marketing teams struggle, and it deserves a deep dive. But first let’s outline the basics:

    • Messaging & positioning: Good ole marketing stuff.
    • Organization design: Ensure you have  the right resources on your marketing team to focus on this area of the customer lifecycle, and that they’re aligned with strategies, objectives and KPIs.
    • Budget planning: All the strategy in the world means nothing if you can’t pay to implement it.
    • Campaign/play planning: This involves going through and understanding what campaigns you’re executing, and what KPIs need to be tracked accordingly.
  • Content/asset planning: With campaigns outlined, it’s time to get into the specifics of what channels and assets will resonate most with your audience. 

Customer Marketing Process

Much like the planning stage, the customer marketing process is an area where many organizations start to falter. And without a process to get them across the finish line, the best laid plans  are useless. Consider::

  • Lifecycle: You’ll need a solid understanding of the customer lifecycle, pre-sale and post-sale, so it can be integrated into your strategy.
  • Scoring: It’s often seen as a function of demand generation, but you’re leaving money on the table by not invoking scoring in the customer lifecycle for product usage and cross-sell opportunities.
  • Routing and conversion: Who will own the customer purchases after the initial sale? This could be a whole eBook worth of advice!
  • Sales process alignment: Your sales process in particular must be aligned with your customer lifecycle, and include logical next steps for the customer both from the sales and marketing points of view.

Customer Marketing Development

It’s been a long road to get to this point:the internal development of all the things you planned to do. This isn’t customer-facing yet, but we are so close! It’s finally time to craft your:

  • Campaign/play development
  • Content/asset development
  • Sales enablement tools
  • Operational readiness plan

Customer Marketing Framework Execution

This is where the rubber meets the road. All the strategy, all the planning, all the building, it all comes down to execution now. And so, with these pieces firmly in place, it’s time to hit the very literal button on the execution. If your sales team needs to change the way they talk, they start now. If the marketing team needs to put out a newsletter, it deploys now. This last step is one of action!

  • Operationalization: It’s time to put your concepts to work and measure results!
  • KPIs and dashboard: Remember, these need to map back to your initial objectives and KPIs from the strategy phase. Also, it’s crucial to keep the KPIs highly visible and actionable, so you can make sure everyone is on the same page.
  • Optimization: The best laid plans also need adjusting at times. Don’t fear failure, expect that on the path to extreme success, you’ll need to adjust course more than once.

Strategic Marketing Frameworks Require Planning

We just covered a lot of ground. Take a moment to let it all sink in, and then think about which areas are self-explanatory to you and which ones aren’t. Are there pieces of the customer marketing framework you’re struggling with? Where could you use some help?

When all is said and done, your success with customer marketing depends on fleshing out each of these areas of uncertainty. But we want to leave you with a few more tips we’ve learned through the years:

  1. Make sure the allocation of resources, people, and dollars you put toward customer marketing fits the role it plays in your larger marketing strategy. In other words, if it’s a huge growth driver for you, it needs more marketing spend and attention. If not, you need to reduce or eliminate what you’re throwing toward it.
  2. Assign a singular person within marketing to be accountable for Customer Lifecycle Marketing, and make sure they’re aligned with a similar person in sales.

Customer Marketing Framework Takeaways

Finally, don’t forget to pay special attention to the following concepts when laying the groundwork for this whole process:

  • Customer Segmentation: You’ll have a major leg up if you know and understand who your customers are and how they segment into different needs. Then you can map your marketing activity to those segments.
  • Your Lifecycle Model: Having a well-defined lifecycle model that includes post-customer acquisition is crucial to success. You must understand where in that lifecycle each customer is, so you can interact with them depending on where they are in the journey.
  • Organizational/Design Elements: Ensure you have dedicated resources in place to support the strategy that is being developed.

There’s a lot of variability when it comes to customer marketing, including your industry, products/services, growth strategy and more. But hopefully this customer marketing framework helps you understand the best way to approach it, and how to map your efforts to the desired outcomes.  Any questions? We’d love to help.

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Customer Marketing Framework: A Blueprint for Success

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