CX should stand on the shoulders of marketing, not replace it
In light of the increasing focus on CX, Tom Uhlhorn writes that marketing risks losing relevance if it fails to keep pace with advancements in human-centred design practices.
As the focus on customer experience (CX) in business and media intensifies, the question as to who owns the customer has become more pressing — particularly where the remit of CX and marketing teams overlap (and they almost always do). In these instances, business leaders can risk siloing their CX projects from their marketing strategy.
As the importance of CX continues to grow, marketers are often responsible for leading CX strategy and execution while remaining accountable for return on investment. This can cause friction among organisations due to a knowledge gap between marketing departments and those representing the CX projects (who tend to have vague and undefined roles).
The reality of the situation begs the obvious question, can CX be taught as a next-generation skill for marketers looking to reap the benefits of the experience economy?
Get a bigger budget
Within the marketing departments of challenger brands’ low-margin enterprises, marketers are often tasked with executing campaigns with budgets and resources that are a fraction of their competitors. All too often marketing strategies and tactics employed are a cheap imitation of those that market leaders (with their much larger budgets) employ. To bring a knife to a gunfight seems apt expression here.
When marketing efficacy doesn’t translate into practice, more often than not the answer is simple: find a bigger budget (or an up-and-comer who will do it for less). However, this begs the question: does traditional marketing theory only apply to those with the budgets for significant media spend? No.
Any marketer worth their salt already knows marketing is more than simply a focus on promotion (just one of the seven sacred Ps), yet the industry zeitgeist has continued well into the 21st century, particularly marketing services. So, how can we break this way of thinking? You guessed it, CX.
CX as an effective framework mitigates the lack of flexibility in typical marketing agency models and marketing services. It provides marketing strategies with an exciting new array of tools and tactics that can be employed to achieve better product-market fit, go-to-market fit, and brand differentiation. This is mostly due to the fact that, unlike modern marketing playbooks, CX has a more versatile and flexible approach that respects a lack of budget and resourcing, yet can still provide a business with a strategy that achieves a positive and scalable return on investment.
The role of the marketer
We already have numerous roles that can be seen to work towards CX, such as marketing managers, market researchers, marketing strategists, product managers, developers and designers. Instead of siloing these departments, CX can tie these roles together to create a customer-centric marketing strategy that provides organisations with opportunities to grow their market share.
As the industry evolves, marketers must be encouraged to learn and apply CX practices, not in lieu of marketing, but in addition to it. For example, a traditional marketing role doesn’t have the remit to include post-sale experiences in its portfolio, and typically steers clear of applying CX practices in favour of safer marketing practices (no one gets fired for hiring Y&R).
However, these limitations have put the role of the marketer under immediate threat. CMOs and marketers alike must take a broader remit and learn how to apply CX so it can stand on the shoulders of marketing. Otherwise, they risk being replaced by roles that undo sophisticated and relevant marketing practices, effectively throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.
Benefits of CX
We already know the benefits CX can have for businesses, such as greater opportunity for value exchange, better brand differentiation, higher perceived market value, increased revenue and improved customer retention. CX involves applying a style of thinking that enables an organisation to be more customer-centric and experience driven, beyond just marketing.
CX is about future-proofing your business to ensure your commercial model is always looped into your customer’s sense of value.
Let’s talk about the B word
For marketers exploring the relationship between CX and brand, the terms may seem interchangeable, and they are very close. In fact, they share a highly symbiotic relationship that needs to be understood. A brand is the emotional relationship between a company and a customer, prospect or stakeholder. CX is a discipline that promotes stronger relationships between companies and individuals. It is focused on providing value across the entire customer journey to deliver an experience that transcends a transaction, in turn strengthening commercial relationships between brand and customer.
Marketers who bring customer experience into their remit provide themselves with the opportunity to unlock the potential to join a portfolio of brands that are changing the rules on how companies can achieve long-term success and mass market adoption.
Marketing is a powerful profession, but if it fails to grow with the advancement in human-centred design practices such as CX, then it runs the risk of losing relevance. Marketers need to learn and adopt CX practice into their agenda. This means propping it up on the shoulders of the rich history of marketing to propel the profession into the 21st century.
Tom Uhlhorn is founder and strategy director at Tiny CX
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Image Credit: Lee Blanchflower