Tips & Tricks

35 Experts Reveal the Single Most Important Ingredient to Any Effective Customer-Driven Marketing Strategy

Any business looking to be competitive must have an effective marketing strategy. With the goal of long-term success, the most effective strategies place their focus on the customer. After all, it’s the customer who will either keep coming back for more or take their business elsewhere, and it’s the satisfied customer who will recommend a company to their family and friends – or steer them away.

An effective customer-driven marketing strategy thinks of the customer from start to finish in both the design and execution. Taking into account the customers’ wants and needs should always be part of this strategy. But what are the essential ingredients to this strategy, and how do you integrate them into your current marketing programs? To gain some insight into the essential ingredients of truly customer-driven marketing initiatives, we asked a panel of marketing and data pros to answer this question:

“What’s the single most important ingredient to any effective customer-driven marketing strategy?”

Find out what secrets you can implement to take your customer-driven marketing initiatives to the next level by reading our experts’ recommendations below.

Meet Our Panel of Marketing and Data Pros:


36_Odin_SohrabiJPGOdin Sohrabi


Odin is the creator of DSLR Finder, a website that helps you to find and compare DSLR cameras and their features, in order to choose the right camera for your needs. Having worked in marketing, he decided to make use of his photography enthusiasm by providing this service.

“I have learned that the single most effective ingredient to running a strong customer-driven marketing strategy (whether as an affiliate or not) is…”

In theory rather simple. Yet, I have noticed that it is still being overlooked by many affiliate marketers, or their idea simply doesn’t have the right approach to make it part of what they try to offer.

The simple, yet most important factor is this: Add value. Add value to your target audience. If your product or service, i.e. what you are offering customers and what you are promoting, is not adding any value to them, they will leave just as quickly as they entered.

Think of it from a customer’s viewpoint. If a customer is interested in buying pet food for their dog but is unsure which one might be better, the customer will most likely Google it. Now if I run a website promoting dog food for different breeds and the customer finds me, he or she will likely not be interested in me telling them that there are hundreds of dog foods out there, or where they can buy dog food. They just want to quickly know which one is better for their specific dog breed. Therefore, I am not adding any direct value to the customer, and the customer will most likely leave.

In my case, I am running an affiliate marketing site where people can find and compare DSLR cameras. Based on my experience, I therefore learned to make sure to emphasize that I am helping people to find the right camera for their specific needs and interests. I don’t bore them with any unrelated info. Instead, I think of it from the customer’s perspective: I am visiting your website because I want to know which of camera A vs camera B is better for my interest in portrait photography: Therefore, the site directly shows which camera is better, what advantages the camera has and for what types of photography it is more useful.

Unless your affiliate website or blog adds any real value to your target audience, selling your products or services will be much harder than if you actually offer any added value.

35_Doug_FowlerDoug Fowler


Doug Fowler leads the team of inbound marketing experts at Waypost Marketing. His primary focus is providing digital marketing solutions that deliver measurable results, key client activities, ensuring excellent customer service, and the highest level of quality control. Doug’s areas of expertise include Digital Strategy, Inbound Marketing, and Analytics.

“The single most important ingredient to any effective customer-driven marketing strategy is…”

Relevant data is the most important ingredient to an effective customer-driven marketing strategy. It is crucial to understand that every customer is unique, and that is exactly why personalization in sales and marketing brings outstanding results. But to execute an ethically personalized strategy, any business will need data on the specific challenges their customers are facing and the solutions they prefer.

Every website visitor and lead leave clues about their situation; reading those clues correctly and using them in your approach creates marketing that is mutually beneficial both for the business and its customers.

34_Hannah_ParvazJPGHannah Parvaz


Hannah spent nearly a decade in the music industry, before venturing into the startup world, she now heads up Digital Marketing and Growth at fee-free ticketing & music discovery app DICE.

“The single most important ingredient to designing an effective customer-driven marketing strategy is…” 

Developing a product people want, parallel to creating a brand people can relate with is key. Being likeable, and becoming something your fans want to engage with is the most important ingredient to any effective customer-driven marketing strategy. When you look at emerging companies like Mondo, who are open, engaging, and appreciative of their fans, it’s no surprise that they had the fasted crowdfunding raise in history.

33_Kelsey_GoeresJPGKelsey Goeres


Kelsey Goeres is a Social Media and Marketing Associate at MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark and copyright filing services.

“The most important factor in customer-driven marketing is…”

Knowing your audience. If you haven’t done the proper research of who’s buying your product/service, you won’t reach your full potential in marketing. Social media platforms like Facebook have a great advertising option of being able to target exact demographics- so it’s in your best interest to know who you should be reaching out to.

32_Meagan_FrenchJPGMeagan French


Meagan French is the founder and principal of Lotus Growth, a B2B marketing and demand generation agency located in San Francisco.

“I would say that the single most important factor that I’ve seen in companies I work with is…”

The marketing team’s ability to collaborate with the rest of the company. Marketing is a highly collaborative profession, and without communicating closely with the sales and product teams, marketers miss out on the customer insights that these teams offer. Sales representatives interact with customers daily and understand the challenges, pain points, and the way customers talk about products better than anyone else. Product collects quantitative and qualitative data from customers to direct product strategy.

Listening to the sales team’s feedback and having access to the product teams data is critical to building customer-driven marketing campaigns. Customer’s insights should be incorporated into content and campaigns to make them more customer-centric.

31_Daniel_NdukwuJPGDaniel Ndukwu


Daniel Ndukwu is the chief scientist of The Experiment, where he helps entrepreneurs and small business owners create high impact content and tell compelling brand stories.

“The most important factor and something that’s surprisingly overlooked is…”

What the customer wants. Many organizations say they have the customer at heart but haven’t even done a survey to find out what people like and dislike. The most important factor is talking to your customers like humans. From there, you can iterate to the high heavens.

30_Jim_MillerJPGJim Miller


Jim Miller is the Managing Director of  Velo Glass.

“For us, the most important factor has always been…”

Having a story that resonates with our customers. Or more specifically, the right customers.

To do so, we have spent a tremendous amount of time developing, and refining, our customer personas. The one we are most focused upon – her name is “Jennifer” – is practical, family oriented but has a strong sense of individuality. We keep working, and reworking, our message, our delivery, and the venues it would be most effective, in order to better reach her.

Our business, so you know, is customized, hand-made, glass vases. Customers pick a form, pick their colors and we custom make their design for them. It has niche appeal, and it is sold largely online (we have a few retail venues). When we started, we knew the appeal would be selective, and our customers would be hard to identify using easier demographics (like age, gender, etc). So for us, we had to really dive in deeply to create the personas we would target.

29_Nick_BraunJPGNick Braun


Nick Braun works for

“The single most important ingredient to any effective customer-driven marketing strategy is…”

Customization. Don’t use a shotgun approach and spray random content to your customers. Target in on their specific needs and provide that content. Conversion rates will go up, satisfaction will go up and your ROI will improve.

For example, we don’t just spam customers with pet insurance info, we send owners of senior, Golden Retrievers information about senior, Golden Retrievers.

Not easy to implement but worth every penny in the long-term.

28_Jon_EyreJon Eyre


Jon Eyre has worked in content and customer marketing for more than a decade at high-tech firms ranging from large enterprise to startups and everything in between. He is currently the director of content at Podium, a leading provider of online review management solutions.

“The single most important ingredient to any customer-driven marketing strategy is…”

Giving the customer a voice. The internet has amplified word of mouth marketing, so much so that now a vast majority of consumers now trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from family and friends. Businesses should be taking advantage of this trend by empowering customers to share their feedback through Google, Facebook, and other online review sites.

27_Eric_BrantnerJPGEric Brantner


Eric Brantner is the founder of

“The single most important ingredient to any effective customer-driven marketing strategy is…”

First and foremost, you have to know your customer. So many businesses market to themselves, rather than their actual customer. I see it in website copywriting all the time: the business and sales pages are written by the company from their own point of view. But instead, you need to know the end user and write in a language they understand.

26_Drew_StevensJPGDrew Stevens


Drew Stevens is the author of 10 books in marketing and sales as well as hundreds of articles in consumer marketing. He is an international keynote speaker and frequently requested by the media.

“The most important factor that helps customer-driven marketing is…”

Customer touchpoints. A consumer-centric organization must comprehend every area a consumer touches from logistics to quality assurance to marketing. Those that follow the trail market more efficiently and in some cases alleviate marketing costs by 54%. Customer driven marketing via touch points creates marketing avatars and community quickly elevating brand and positioning.

25_Malik_JafferJPGMalik Jaffer


As the owner and founder of The Mobilizer, Malik helps businesses engage and retain their clients and customers through easy-to-use mobile marketing techniques. He is an entrepreneur with over 30 years experience working with and strengthening businesses, non-profits, associations and government entities. Malik coaches owners and executives around the country on development and boosts their businesses using mobile marketing.

“The single most important ingredient to any effective customer-driven marketing strategy is…”

Texting is one of the oldest functions on cell phones and is a proven technique to reach customers IF it is done right. Unlike email with read rates around 17% and apps with opt-in for push notification rates at 40% and dropping, text reigns as king with a whopping 98% read rate on all text messages, and that’s in the first five minutes! Commercial text message requires that customers provide consent.

As a business owner this is fantastic. I know I am sending messages to people who want to know and buy my product or service thereby making my marketing dollar stretch to maximum effectiveness. Texting is intimate, so I get to be highly targeted, clear, concise and deliberate with my messaging and that’s what my customers want. They love it!

I mainly send four types of text messaging to clients. First, an incentive call to action. This is a get a FREE chicken sandwich, a buy-one-get-one offer or a discounted service. The second type of text message is filling vacancies. For example, if a salon has cancellations, we send out text messaging for them to get those empty spots filled quickly. The third type of message is value added. This is generally an education or awareness related tip. We provide valuable information about the product or service we provide. Imagine if you are a health coach being able to send weekly health coaching messages directly to your clients’ phone via text. The fourth category of text messaging is strictly informational.

We work with home owner’s associations who send messages informing members of meetings or maintenance issues. There are many other applications for text messaging but we push just under a quarter million messages a month focusing on these four areas.

24_Annabel_AnnunziataJPGAnnabel Annunziata


Annabel Annunziata works for Beauty At Its Finest, an online store with clothes, accessories, furniture, jewelry, home decor, maternity, and baby items. It is your one stop shop for all things beautiful!

“The most important part of a customer-driven marketing strategy is…”

Connecting with your customers and interacting with them. It is so important to interact with your customers and potential customers. Let them know you are there for them and that you are a real person. You can also get to know what they like and don’t like. Build a relationship with your customer.

23_Sam_WilliamsonJPGSam Williamson


Sam Williamson works for CBDiablo UK, a web design company based in the UK.

“The single most important ingredient to any effective customer-driven marketing strategy is…”

Without customers, you don’t have a business. So it’s no wonder that customer-driven marketing is such a popular tactic among business owners keen to promote loyalty among the people they care about the most – their customers. For effective customer-driven marketing, understanding your clientele is key, which is why it is vital that you research their demands prior to starting your marketing efforts. Following your research, you should aim to exceed their expectations with your marketing and show them that their satisfaction is your priority.

22_Stephanie_WhiteJPGStephanie White


Stephanie White oversees the customer marketing team at Firmex, a virtual data room provider used by over 200,000 investment banking, legal, and corporate professionals to securely share critical due diligence documents.

“The most important ingredient in an effective customer-driven marketing strategy is…”

Quite straightforward: ongoing customer feedback. All marketers are tasked with staying savvy with best practices and using data trends to inform campaign tests. That said, a customer-driven marketing strategy is only as successful as its appeal to your customers; understanding what resonates with, and incents, your clientele can only come from them. Regularly posing questions, making time for interviews, and capturing the feedback of a large audience is a great way to produce win-win programming.

21_Eric_BowenEric Bowen


Eric Bowen is the Digital Marketing Analyst for

“The single most important ingredient to any effective customer-driven marketing strategy is…”

As most companies gain the majority of their business from search engines, it is insanely important to focus on keyword searches that will drive highly actionable traffic. I define actionable traffic as traffic (organic or referred) that can be converted into sales. You want to make sure you are using customer friendly keywords that will help the customer fulfill their need and thus make their click actionable. If you are targeting a keyword that will not help the customer, you will see a high amount of Organic Traffic, but you will not see an uptick in sales. It is very important to decipher what needs your site can fulfill and target those needs as keywords in search engines.

20_Marcus_MillerJPGMarcus Miller


Marcus is head of Digital Marketing at the UK Digital Marketing Agency Bowler Hat. Marcus & his team help businesses design and implement winning digital marketing strategies across the search and social landscape.

“The single most important ingredient in a customer driven marketing plan is…”

A clear understanding of the customer needs. If you understand the customer, and different types of customers, then you can understand their needs. More than you can understand the various jobs they have to perform. You can understand the pain points. You can understand the desired gains. With this understanding of the customers’ jobs, pains and gains you can craft a value proposition that speaks directly to each customer.

Go to whatever means necessary to understand your customers. Get into the nitty gritty of the jobs they have to do. Really get a handle on the challenges they face. Most important of all truly understand what they are looking to gain here and go beyond just the financial – understand what it is they truly love and you are well on your way to building a winning strategy.

19_Laryssa_WirstiukJPGLaryssa Wirstiuk


Laryssa Wirstiuk, a.k.a. “Joy Joya,” is a fine jewelry marketing consultant and jewelry branding expert. She’s based in Los Angeles, CA but works anywhere with WiFi. With extensive knowledge and experience in digital marketing, creative writing, and jewelry sales, she’s an expert at connecting jewelry retailers with their target audiences.

“The single most important ingredient in any effective customer-driven marketing strategy is…”

Speaking to your target market in a voice they’ll not only understand but will want to hear.

Too often, businesses and marketers communicate with their customers in the same way they’d communicate with anyone else or in the way that most makes sense to them. However, that doesn’t mean that potential customers in a specific target market will be receptive to that language and, as a result, the message.

18_Zondra_WilsonZondra Wilson


Zondra Wilson is the President and C.E.O. of Blu Skin Care, LLC.

“The single most important ingredient to any effective customer-driven marketing strategy is…”

Targeting your market. Use marketing research to identify common demographic characteristics within your customer base, such as age, gender, occupation, and income level. The more you know about your customer base, the easier it is to develop a strategy that will appeal to these characteristics. As a result, you waste less time and money trying to reach unlikely prospects.

17_Elizabeth_VenafroJPGElizabeth Venafro


Elizabeth Venafro is a self-proclaimed high-heeled modern marketing technologist with over a decade of experience in digital/print media, public relations, advertising, and corporate events for start-ups and multi-million dollar companies across diverse industries. She currently acts as the Managing Partner and Co-Founder of True Exec.

“The most important factor in customer-driven marketing is…”

Personalization is key. The traditional mass market approach is no longer effective. Consumers expect you to know what they want, when they want it, and how they want it to be delivered.

16_Ana_WeberAna Weber


Ana Weber is a Lifestyle Leadership Coach, Founder of 360 degrees of success course on Udemy, and an APP Best-selling Author.

“The most important factor in customer-driven marketing is…”

Creating the demand and the need. Attract the customer by following the formulas:

  • Visualization of product or services (channel direct format) color – size – attraction
  • Product price (market compatibility)
  • Benefits of product (saves money, time, and energy)

The ‘Big Why’? Elevator pitch!

15_David_FoleyJPGDavid Foley

David Foley, The Strategic Mailing Coach, provides consulting and training on direct marketing. He is based in Toronto, Canada, and may be reached at 416-253-1224 or through his website.

“The most important ingredient for any effective customer-driven marketing strategy is…”

Inspired segmentation through intensive analysis of customers’ purchase behavior. Most businesses acquire customer data in the normal course of doing business – and this data is too often ignored in developing target lists for specific promotions. While it is easier to just send the promotion to the entire customer list (especially by e-mail), that approach is usually a huge waste of money.

The concept of targeted segments comes naturally to my colleagues in the direct marketing field, although it can and should be applied to other media, such as e-mail and telephone-based campaigns. Where a business sells through a distributor, a co-operative approach is needed.

Segmentation may be approached from a variety of perspectives: Direct response marketers, for example, often use RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary Values) analysis. Car dealerships, for instance, can easily compare vehicle purchase/lease records with service records in order to create lists of those customers who use the service department of the dealership — and those who do not. These two groups can then be sent different offers, one to current customers to engender loyalty, a second to non-service customers to encourage trial. The identical approach may be used by many other businesses. A third example: If a business has a list of those who purchased product X, it can promote a related product to this list (and this list only).

My most interesting segmentation assignment was for a small group of hotels. The objective of the campaign was that past guests re-visit one or more of the hotels in a specific time-frame and, as often happens, the client’s budget did not allow that all past guests be sent the promotion. The segmentation approach included four distinct steps: (1) Eliminate all corporate and wedding bookings; (2) Analysis of the remaining records over a 2-year period and (3) Identify the most likely respondents based on their past purchases and mail them the offer, and (4) Evaluate the results of the campaign. While the latter is confidential, I can say that they client was well-pleased with the revenue that flowed from this promotion.

14_Mark_HarringtonJPGMark Harrington


Mark Harrington is Vice President of Marketing for, a leading Consumer Management platform, delivering innovative marketing solutions to over 60 million customers of premier brands like Crabtree & Evelyn, Godiva, Meineke, New Balance, and Rawlings. Previously he served in strategic marketing roles for leading brands like eBay, Citi, and Pearson, and pioneering startups like, Ecount, and Infonautics.

“There’s arguably nothing more critical to effective customer-driven marketing today than…”

having the ability to identify your customers to deliver them individualized, relevant experiences. If you can’t identify them, you can’t understand them, and if you can’t understand them you can’t effectively motivate them. In today’s ‘show me you know me’ world, upwards of 80% of your customers expect personalization from your brand and the only way to deliver it is with cross-channel, data-driven marketing solutions.

13_Ashley_WatkinsJPGAshley Watkins


Ashley Watkins has more than 10 years of marketing communications experience including representing one of the largest non-profits in the world, Goodwill Industries, as well as for-profits and an agency. She is currently employed as a Marketing Communications Specialist at engineering consulting firm, Trimark Associates, Inc. Ashley resides in the Sacramento, California area.

“The single most important ingredient to any effective customer-driven marketing strategy is…”

The intersection at which a customer’s needs or desires and a company’s product or service meet. For example, your business offers no after-5 p.m. customer service; however, your target customer works a full work day and can only find the time to call once they get home. While your company carries on business as usual, a competitor adapts by creating an on-call department and scoops 60% of the market. Not truly understanding how or why your product/ service fits into your target customer’s life strips a strategy of its customer-centric intention, making it more of a collection of self-indulgent attempts that the target will just ignore, because there will always be other options.

12_Igor_KholkinIgor Kholkin


Igor Kholkin is a digital marketing consultant in Los Angeles with seven years of client-side and agency-side experience developing and implementing online marketing strategies.

“The most critical ingredient in an effective customer-driven marketing strategy is…”

Differentiation. You could tick all the boxes in your strategy, but without a unique value proposition you will have a difficult time growing in a saturated market. What makes you different from the rest? Customers always direct their attention to something that stands out. It makes your future marketing efforts easier, helps your focus your brand messaging, and gives you something to lean on when competitors develop their own distinct value propositions. Carve your own niche in a broad market, and you’ll always have a loyal customer base.

11_Eric_MoellerJPGEric Moeller


Eric Moeller is the founder of Copy Dojo, a marketing consultancy which helps clients improve conversions and grow their business. He has two decades of experience in high-tech marketing, sales copywriting, and product management. Eric has an MBA and was a student and coach in Seth Godin’s alt MBA program.

“The most important ingredient to any effective customer-driven marketing strategy is…”

To first establish a solid understanding of your customer. This may sound obvious, but most companies don’t do it well or in enough depth. They think they know their customer, but they haven’t invested the time to know them really well and to understand their worldview.

A solid understanding of the customer’s needs, wants, and desires has to be the foundation upon which all customer-driven marketing strategies are based.

Knowing these things about your customer enables you to select the tactics most appropriate to reach your customer based on their worldview.

Now more than ever, customer empathy is becoming a key differentiator for businesses and should be the bedrock of your marketing strategies.

Understanding your customer’s needs, wants, desires, and what drives each of these gives you insight into what and why they buy, how they purchase, and who is responsible for making purchases. This will give you considerable insight into what marketing mix to use – for example, advertising, content marketing, PR, direct email or mail campaigns, trade shows, and much more.

A solid understanding of the customer also enables you to write more effective sales copy, which will be more likely to encourage them to take the action you want.

Most companies fall into the trap of talking about the features of their product or service, which moves the focus of their marketing away from a customer-driven approach.

10_Stefan_TweraserJPGDr. Stefan Tweraser

Dr. Stefan Tweraser is CEO of Big DATA hotel analytics startup SnapShot. Dr. Tweraser is best known for his position as Country Director Sales at Google Germany.

“The single most important ingredient in customer-driven marketing is…”

Having a deep understanding of the customer who is going to be seeing the campaign. Almost like actors, good marketing people should spend time living as their audience and understanding the habits, rituals, routines, and lives of their audience, so they can craft messages and placements that make sense for them. Many fail because they get the ideas in their offices, with no concept at all of how the actual audience perceives the campaign.

It’s easy (but expensive) to test TV ads, billboards, and even online ads, and to pull the plug if they aren’t working – but the whole campaign needs to be driven by that deep understanding of the audience.

Brainstorm sessions and similar efforts become easily theoretical or over-thought, so experiencing it like the audience is the best way to make campaigns more effective and better received.

09_Pam_DanzigerJPGPamela Danziger


Speaker, author, and market researcher Pamela N. Danziger is internationally recognized for her expertise on the world’s most influential consumers: the American Affluent. Her new book  Shops that POP! 7 Steps to Extraordinary Retail Success, reveals the secrets to crafting a retail shopping experience that’s irresistible to high-value shoppers. As founder of Unity Marketing in 1992, Pam leads with research to provide brands with actionable insights into the minds of their most profitable customers.

“The single most important ingredient to any effective customer-driven marketing strategy is…”

Marketing starts with understanding the customer. It is as simple as that. Valid, reliable market research is the key. In studying the customer, three perspectives are required. Drawing an analogy from criminal investigations, marketers need to understand who has the ‘means’; who has the ‘opportunity’ and who has the ‘motive’ to buy:

Means – If marketing starts with understanding the customer, then understanding the customer starts with demographics. Gender, age, marital status and household makeup are important , but even more so is income – who has the money to spend on what you are selling? In today’s post-recession economy, the middle-class has lost much of its discretionary spending power, leaving the affluent (defined as those with incomes in the top 20% of all  U.S. households) the key to finding customers who still have discretion to spend. Unfortunately when people hear ‘affluent,’ they think wealthy, rich or luxury. Not so. The affluent top 20% today start at slightly over $100k in household income. So they are doing better than 80% of all U.S. households, yet those with incomes up to about $250,000 (the border line for the top 2-3%) think of themselves as firmly middle-class. Marketing successfully to the affluent takes a combination of both mass-market tactics, as they are still keen on value and saving money, and luxury marketing strategies, focused on high quality and exceptional service.

Opportunity – This is research into customers’ purchase behavior. Past purchase behavior often predicts future purchasing behavior, so marketers need to understand how often their customers shop and buy, how they shop (online, in store, mobile), how much they spend, what types of goods and services they favor, and all the other factors that are related to purchase behavior. Once you understand the purchase behavior of the customer, marketers can develop strategies to move them up the ladder, as well as shift marketing efforts toward the customer’s demographics and purchase behavior identified through research as offering the most profitable, long lasting market opportunity.

Motive – This is psychographics or why people buy. Are the customers motivated by need or desire? What makes them turn to you as a means to satisfy their specific motivation. This is where psychographic segmentation comes in, looking at your customers in groups or clusters based upon specific identifiable drives that motivate them to reach out to your business. Understanding these unique motivations is key to positioning your business and your value proposition in such a way that it resonates with each of your identified customer segments/groups.

Finally, with these three perspectives, marketers can map a path to new customers who fit the parameters which customer research has identified. It also is key to generating more business from the customers you already attract. You won’t be marketing in a scatter-gun approach, but precisely targeted to each of the key customer segments based upon your research into their demographics, purchase behavior and motivations.


07_Filiberto_AmatiJPGFiliberto Amati


Filiberto Amati is the Managing Partner of Amati & Associates, a growth consulting firm active in the branding, innovation, and commercial excellence disciplines. Filiberto has a Masters in Engineering from Federico II in Naples and an MBA from IESE in Barcelona. He is also currently working on his PhD dissertation in innovation at the Polish Academy of Sciences. Before starting A&A he worked in general management, marketing, and sales roles in Procter & Gamble, Philips, and Gruppo Campari.

“The single most important ingredient to any effective customer-driven marketing strategy is…”

In a nutshell, a winning customer-centric strategy begins with a relevant, unique, and actionable customer insight. The insight can be based on qualitative or quantitative data (big or small) but it is usually advisable to formulate it in a traditional narrative form, e.g., “I wish there was a way to….”

The insight needs to be relevant because customers are becoming more and more sophisticated and more and more picky in their shopping and consumption decisions. It should also be unique, because when we use the knowledge which is also available to our competitors, we risk developing a strategy that does not stand out in an overly crowded marketplace. And finally, it should be actionable: they must take into consideration the current capabilities of the firm, both in terms of providing technological solutions, marketing, and commercial ability to deliver a credible solution (e.g., don’t stretch brand boundaries…).

06_Gene_CaballeroGene Caballero


Gene Caballero is co-founder of GreenPal which has been described as Uber for lawn care.

“The single most important ingredient to any effective customer-driven marketing is…”

Gaining referrals. This creates customer loyalty and also creates an advocate for your company. Unexpected acts of kindness can create these types of relationships.

We send dog bones out to our homeowners with pets along with a thank you card. Not only is this very cheap, but it lets our customers know that we are listening and that we care.

05_Patrick_HopfPatrick Hopf


Patrick Hopf is a digital industry veteran and the President & Co-Founder of SourceKnowledge. Patrick started his career driving strategy and product development for one of the internet’s earliest search engines. His focus is now on building innovative video ad serving technology. A keen industry blogger and presenter, Patrick is a staunch evangelist for up-and-coming technologies and the progressive work his team is doing in defining the future of video advertising.

“The single most important ingredient to any effective customer-driven marketing strategy is…”

Just because a company has access to a floodgate of data does not mean that they’re a “data-driven company.” To be a data-driven company means a company-wide commitment to infuse analytics into all operations. It requires the whole team to buy into the idea of making decisions based on data around key performance metrics rather than relying on intuition. Data is at the center of all company projects – it allows us to know where we are now and how far we are from reaching our goals.

When a company’s decisions are based on actual numbers rather than biases or beliefs, this also reduces the risk in error. It helps to have a data warehouse where actionable insights can be extracted from a BI tool or at the very least a business intelligence team. Establishing and tracking key metrics is a major part of being a data-driven company. For example, a data-driven e-commerce company will track average order value, lifetime value, and marketing payback by customer cohort instead of simply tracking total sales per month in order to measure growth.

First, establish KPIs that are meaningful for your company. Invest in a data warehouse, a robust BI tool, and a business analytics team. Track your core metrics closely and measure how they trend over time. Experiment with new initiatives and continually iterate growth positive programs. In time, your team should shift their thinking to focus on data instead of perceived value.

04_Scott_LaysonScott Layson


Scott Layson is the owner, along with his wife, of the Layson Group – Keller Williams in Nashville, TN. He is a licensed realtor, but his main focus is establishing solid marketing strategies to attract and retain loyal clients.

“I think the most important thing you can do when marketing to your customers is…”

To tap into their emotions. If you can find where their pain points are and then offer a solution, there’s a good chance that your customer will begin to have a deeper connection with you. As an example, Nashville is currently an incredibly hot real estate market where there are not enough homes to meet the soaring demand. This can lead to a very frustrating home search experience.

To show that we understand their situation, we created a content marketing piece around why it is so hard to find a home in Nashville and how we can help make it a more enjoyable experience. With this approach, you establish yourself as understanding, caring, and knowledgeable.

03_Bryan_ClaytonBryan Clayton


Bryan Clayton is CEO of GreenPal, which is best described as Uber for Lawn Care.

“The single most important ingredient in a customer-driven marketing approach is…”

Qualitative customer feedback. Understanding why people say yes to your product offering is essential for understanding what your value proposition is.

The way I do this is by spending 15 to 20 minutes every morning sitting down and answering the customer support tickets that came in throughout the night before.

Our marketplace has grown to over 10,000 users, so there is a never-ending flow of support tickets and I like to personally handle some of them first thing each morning to keep myself grounded in the idea that the customer is the center of everything we do and to keep myself close to their perspective and their logic.

It might sound crazy to make this part of our morning routine, but it’s only 15 or 20 minutes, and it really sets my perspective for the rest of the day.

02_AJ_SaleemAJ Saleem


AJ Saleem is the Director of Suprex Learning, a leading private tutoring and test prep company based in Houston. AJ has created a big dent in the private tutoring market by offering well-trained, highly qualified teachers who are also dynamic instructors. The company also operates in New York and Chicago.

“The single most important factor in effective customer-driven marketing strategy is…”

Target market. Mass market targeting is becoming more and more ineffective in the new consumer-driven market. A business needs to target a specific audience; for example, my business operates in the high school educational sector, so I would advertise on channels that millennials use rather than channels that middle-aged adults watch.

01_Adam_OLearyAdam O’Leary


Adam O’Leary is President of Encite International, a Denver-based marketing and advertising agency. He is a graduate of Colorado State University and has experience on both the client and agency side of the marketing world. He sets the strategic direction for all Encite projects, developing integrated marketing campaigns that bring results.

“The single most important ingredient to any effective customer-driven marketing strategy is…”

What we call the “C-Strategy.” Most products and services in the marketplace aren’t groundbreaking and innovative. They are a commodity and “me too” concepts with very little differentiation between them. That is not to say that they can’t be successful. It will just take a bit more work to get there.

Marketing and advertising works. We all know that. Advertising companies all across the world would suggest that it’s the most important piece of a business because without marketing, customers wouldn’t know who you are or what you’re selling. The big question is: to what degree does it work? It all depends on whether a business owner integrates what we call the “C-Strategy” which consists of three basic concepts: commitment, consistency, and confidence.

Commitment: If a company could gain increased sales, brand awareness or market share instantly or easily, they would be on easy street straight-away. Unfortunately, that isn’t how most marketing and advertising works. The challenge most businesses have is a commitment to a marketing program. To attain incremental and sustainable revenue generation, a marketing initiative must have a full commitment from executives which can be a very difficult notion for a small business. It comes down to the trust and credibility they have in their product, their people and their process. Typically, a business has attempted other marketing programs before with mixed to unsuccessful results. This leads them to be skeptical of any campaign and being doubtful of its success. They must dismiss that doubt and continue to drive awareness, interest and desire through a committed marketing strategy.

Consistency: Once a business is fully committed to a marketing initiative, the consistency primarily falls to their in-house marketing team or the advertising agency in charge of the campaign. However, this is something we have found the business can resist from time to time. Creative opinions can differ and a tendency to return to old habits or old strategies takes over. This becomes very common when a business is under the gun to promote a discount, publicize an event or stick to a schedule.

We have to explain to the business that we have to stay on the strategy we agreed upon ensuring the creative piece of the marketing campaign is consistent. Changing creative mid-campaign can cause confusion to the target market leading them to miss the intended marketing message.

In addition, marketing messages need to consistently be in front of your intended audience. With so much marketing clutter out there, your brand, its products and image needs to be top of mind with your customer when the time comes for them to make a buying decision.

Confidence: The last and most important concept to any marketing strategy is confidence in the program. Without a positive mindset, the strategy is destined to fail. We always encourage a business to be convinced the initiative is going to be successful even if we do need to tweak it as we go.

I am sure every marketing firm has experienced business that perpetuate a pessimistic attitude that can affect their customers, staff and most importantly, themselves! Without confidence in what we are doing, it will certainly fail. So stay positive and what we are trying to accomplish we will achieve!