3 Ways to Keep Your Customer at the Center of Your Marketing Story

I hope you’re in an awesome mood…’cause I’m about to lay some truth on you. You ready?

The truth is: no one really cares about your business.

The same is true even if you run a charity organization or minister in a church. People don’t really care how great your product or service is, how skilled the professionals in your office are, or how you serve the greater good. They truly only care about one thing: how it will benefit them. I know it stings, but honesty is the best policy, right?

So how do you get through to your customers and motivate them to do business with you? You place them at the center of your marketing materials. THEY should be the center of your marketing story. If you approach marketing by talking about yourself or your business, they just aren’t going to listen. 

Marketing messages like this are common:

We make the best ______ in New Orleans

The Ultimate Driving Machine

Award-winning service since 1928

When your customer is at the center of your marketing, you can position yourself as a guide, helper, or expert who comes alongside to help them achieve their goals. They will intuitively want to do business with you because you’ve told them about their own success (instead of yours). And the numbers prove it – companies with a customer-centered marketing message are 60% more profitable than those without (Deloitte and Touche).

So how do you construct a customer-centered marketing message? It can be challenging to stop talking about your business when you are close to it everyday. So here are 3 simple tips to get you headed in the right direction.

1) Everybody’s favorite word: you

Most companies use their favorite word all over their website: we, we, we. The word we shouts “inwardly focused” and does not connect with your customer. It communicates that your more focused on your own success than that of your customer. When you frame it that way it can almost make them feel like you’re using them to get ahead! Not good.

The fix is relatively simple! All you have to do is start using the word you instead. Most sentences that include “we” can be reworded when you change the subject to “you.” You can say the same thing by positioning the strengths of your company in terms of how they can help your customer.

For example, instead of saying “We make the best pizza in New Orleans” you can say “The best pizza you’ll find in the Crescent City.” You can change “Awarding-winning service since 1928” to “You’ll love us as much as your great-grandfather did.”

In the image above the text clearly speaks to “you” (the reader) without having to be so direct. “There is hope for a pain-free future” resonates with the potential patient far more than “The most skilled team of physical therapists in Covington.” The staff at Dynamic really is phenomenal – they have more training and expertise and technology in their clinic than lots of other physical therapy clinics in their region, and they deliver an awesome patient experience. But just telling this fact to the potential patient is less likely to get them through the door. When you merely announce accolades to your audience, it leaves them to fill in the gap about how it will benefit them. On the Dynamic homepage it is spelled out for you. Choosing a physical therapy clinic with highly-trained and skilled therapists who genuinely care for their patients means the patient has a better chance of living a future full of hope.

2) Photos of your customer

On most companies’ websites they feature pictures of themselves – their building, their staff, or their public representative. Here again, the potential customer or client does not connect with the content because they do not see themselves reflected back to them. The fix for this problem is simple as well – replace photos of your building and your staff on your homepage with images that reflect your customer base.

On the landing page for Financial Engines (pictured above), you do not see a photo of a bank, or an investor as his desk, or the financial advisor who will provide the advertised expert insight. You see a picture of an older man enjoying some leisure time with a young boy – presumably his grandson. This is a very strategic play by the company! Most people who will seek their service will be male, middle aged or older, and have a family.

You can take this concept one step farther by selecting photos that show your customer enjoying the success your product or service will bring them. In the image above, you see a man relaxing and enjoying his family. He is not stressed over his retirement fund or meeting with his financial advisor – the image has nothing to do with financial planning. Rather, the man in the photo is able to relax and enjoy his family. One is left to assume that this enjoyment is a direct result of the fact that he no longer has to worry about his finances thanks to Financial Engines.

The same is true on the Dynamic Physical Therapy website (pictured above). The woman in the image is not demonstrating her need for physical therapy, nor is she in the clinic performing exercises with a smiling physical therapist. Rather the woman is shown exercising with her baby, and activity she is able to do without pain or limitation thanks to her successful physical therapy.

3) Speak to your client’s success

If there is an American insurance company on top of its marketing it is unquestionably Geico. *Cue “Save 15% on your car insurance by switching to Geico”* In my opinion they have been and continue to be successful as a company because they consistently position themselves as the way for customers to get what they really want – cheaper car insurance.

Before deciding on this image I perused a few other big-name car insurance provider websites, and very few were customer centric. The first thing your eyes see on Geico’s page speaks directly to the customer’s success with “Steer your way to savings.” It also makes the customer the driver – Geico is just along for the ride. Another brand’s header text was “Quality car insurance on and off the road.” Okay – that describes the service provided, but the customer is again left to fill in the mental gap about why that benefits them. They could be more successful in their marketing message if they said the same thing in a different way: “Quality coverage you can always count on.”

The Solution is Simple

The best way to have an effective marketing message that connects with customers is to make it all about them. Keep your customer at the center of your branding through word-choice, images, and focusing on their success. With a little practice you can say all the same things you’re saying now, but with a perspective that makes it clear to your customer how it will benefit them.