Advertisers need to take a page out of the publisher’s playbook by putting the focus back on customers to improve the value proposition for everyone.

How is it that publishers, medical societies and professional associations are able to get physicians to register for their offerings and, in many cases, even pay for services, content or memberships? And why have advertisers not been more successful in this same endeavor? The answer to both of these questions lies in customer centricity: Having a myopic and obsessive focus on the needs of your customer. When a physician is registering for a service, he/she is giving up personal information to a trusted source in exchange for something of value. If either the value exchange or the trust level is not high enough—or the request for personal information is too intrusive—the browsing physician will leave. In order for advertisers to have the same success as publishers they must take a more customer-centric approach, and that starts by asking the following questions.

How can we build trust with our customers?

Consider the deep and long-term financial benefits of building trust and loyalty with your customers. It makes every campaign more effective and every communication resonate more clearly and believably. You can’t put a price tag on it. Building trust starts with putting the needs of your customer first. It means delivering true value, doing the right thing—all the time— not just when it’s profitable or convenient, and focusing beyond the next quarter.

What can we do to improve upon our value proposition from our customer’s point of view?

When you consider what your brand’s value proposition really is in the eyes of your customers, you quickly realize that the answer is “it depends.” It depends on the customer, their unique experiences and their current points of view. But how much personalization are you doing in your marketing efforts? Wouldn’t it greatly improve your value proposition to speak to each customer’s specific needs? Wouldn’t that further build trust and loyalty? The technology exists to speak one on one with each customer, but are you using it? If not, why not?

In exchange for delivering significant value, what information do we really need to ask our customers while not being too intrusive, and what are we going to do with that information to further benefit our customers, if they do share it with us?

Once you’ve built trust and have a solid value proposition, you’ve earned the right to ask your customers for some limited personal information. This might include basic demographic facts or their behavioral or attitudinal preferences. Before you collect this information, however, have a data plan and a usage plan. What specifically do you intend to do with the data collected, when will you do it and how will it further benefit the customer? Nothing is more disheartening then when a client collects a wealth of great data and then lets it go to waste as it degrades, untouched, unused and unleveraged in a CRM system.

If this process sounds complicated, that’s because we work in a highly regulated industry with difficult-to-overcome barriers of resistance that emerge along every step of the process. If you commit to the efforts required to overcome these internal challenges, then your organization will benefit immensely by becoming more customer centric.


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