The ability to engage your target customer is getting more difficult; with the advent of thousands of media channels, savvy customers are disengaging from direct marketing. So how do organisations reach out, inform and engage new and existing customers? How far do you need to go to reach your customers?

In today’s world, savvy customers are able to pre-record television shows without commercial breaks, download podcasts of radio shows enabling them to skip advertisements, reject direct post and delete email advertisements automatically; films with strong product placements may also be liable to receive negative reviews. Finally, modern-day customers are also choosing to read their magazines online and are visibly disengaging from any advertorial banners. The advent of the savvy customer is here and their numbers are growing.
So how can your organisation actually communicate with your target audience and existing customers? Firstly, you must ensure your organisation is ‘customer centric’. Think of the following: ‘what does my customer want/need’? This has traditionally been the last element in the customer process; surviving in the future means reversing traditional customer processes – placing them at the start and core of your organisation. Secondly, you need to engage and communicate with sample customers, find innovative ways to introduce and involve them in your new products, available discounts and loyalty programmes. Ways of doing this include streamlining communication, product placement, finding new communication channels and even product endorsement.
The change in the economic climate has added additional constraints and behaviours to your customers. They know that organisations need their monies now more than ever; they are now the ones in control of where they spend their money, how much they pay and when, rather than the organisation. Customers are manipulating and negotiating the value of goods they purchase by using their strength and knowledge of the economic climate. Additionally, these customers are careful where they spend – they are looking for discount codes on websites, one-day sale vouchers and introductory rates. Such customers identify their target organisation and buy when the price is right. However, they also understand brand loyalty and the strength/influence of the brand, so a large continued discount could actually dissuade customers to spend by decreasing the value of the brand. A fine line is to be trodden to succeed.
Creating a customer-centric organisation is vital to succeed in today’s marketplace; however, this is not a journey to be achieved quickly or painlessly. The majority of organisations and their employees have been designed to look first and foremost at the profit margin and not the customer. Transforming organisational thinking, behaviour, and processes to place the customer at the heart of an organisation is a long term journey. However, the benefits are substantial and will improve the market position/wealth of the organisation. Brands like Dell are already reaping the benefits of becoming customer centric. Other organisations are being innovative by reaching out to their customers through product placements, such as Ford Ka or Sony Ericsson in the James Bond movie, or product endorsements from pop groups like Girls Aloud launching a Sunsilk haircare range. These innovative organisations are recognising that their customers are key to their success and are therefore finding new ways to engage them and become customer centric. The question remains as to whether this huge change requires significant financial and CXO investment; is today’s world truly ready for organisations to meet and exceed its demands?