The Cornerstone of Marketing: The Customer Experience

We’ve come a long way since 1960, when E. Jerome McCarthy heralded the four Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion. Indeed, McCarthy couldn’t have envisioned the roles that technology and globalization would come to play in marketing’s evolution.

Today, the global marketplace influences product design and pricing strategy. The combination of globalization and the internet has overridden traditional concepts of place, replacing deep inventories with just-in-time manufacturing and moving market coverage from physical space to cyberspace.

But perhaps the most significant evolution in McCarthy’s four Ps is in the realm of promotion. Today, a brand isn’t able to wholly define itself. Over the past decade, consumers have come to increasingly rely on each other to recommend brands and products. Social media platforms allow networks of extended family and friends to share impressions, experiences, and information. Review sites provide the groundwork for individual consumers to become reputation makers-or-breakers. And online marketplaces (we’re looking at you, Amazon) have trained consumers to gauge the consensus of strangers before tapping the “Add to Cart” button.

As the relationship between brands and consumers has shifted, companies have had to focus on differentiating themselves from their competition and redouble their efforts to touch customers in valuable, reliable, and memorable ways. In virtually every case, this begins with a company’s public face – its website. Allocating a portion of the ever-increasing customer acquisition budget to a useful, clean, and efficient user experience is an investment that delivers returns. Offering and maintaining a solid customer experience – first online and then in real life – lays the foundation for success.

Although some marketing gurus would have you believe that creating brand messaging that touches the customer and infuses the organization’s culture results from pure inspiration, the truth is that it’s 99 percent perspiration.

Effective client experience: is the result of collecting and analyzing data, making informed decisions, and setting benchmarks. This approach benefits companies in a number of ways, including:

Customer retention: Companies that are invested in customers’ well-being communicate that in ways large and small. The result? Customer brand loyalty.

Cost savings: investing in the customer experience is a profitable engagement strategy. Data shows that 12 positive experiences are needed to compensate for a single negative experience.

Word-of-mouth recommendations: Customers who feel well cared for recommend companies and services to their friends and family members.

In any battle of the brands, the winner will be the one that maintains or increases its investment in the customer experience. That was true in 1960, when McCarthy posited the four Ps, and it holds true today, in an era that encompasses both the depersonalization that is an outgrowth of globalism and the hyper-customization made possible by technology.