Especially if you're taking an integrated marketing approach, your customers need to be driving the decisions your company makes.

Otherwise, your brand could risk becoming irrelevant—or, worse, offensive—to your audience.

Just look at Puma's promotion of its Italy jersey for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It set up "confessionals" across the US and encouraged people to kneel before the "altar," snap pictures, and share them on social channels with the hashtag #StartBelieving.

Unfortunately, the stunt coincided with Ash Wednesday, and Puma's poor timing didn't go over well with its audience.

Customer-centricity matters

When customers are embedded in your DNA—from customer service to marketing to product design—you start to think from their perspective. As a result, you gain insights into not only what you could do but also what you should do as a company.

By harnessing your customers' wants and needs and infusing that knowledge into every marketing decision, you can establish lifelong relationships that will inevitably grow your business.

The customer-centric mindset is actually similar to a brand-centric one—it just starts with the customer rather than the brand.

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image of David Saef

David Saef is the executive vice-president of MarketWorks and strategy at GES, a global event marketing company that connects people through live events.

LinkedIn: David Saef

Twitter: @DSStrategy