Strong client relationships translate into so much more than a steady revenue stream. They can power an important source of lead generation as well as establish a stable branding foundation.

To gain a better understanding of customer marketing and how it fits into branding and thought leadership for a company, we sat down with Barbara Bernard, Senior Director of Global Customer Lifecycle Marketing at Pitney Bowes.

Here’s what Bernard had to say about building and deepening customer relationships through a customer marketing approach:

Modern Marketing Today (MMT): Tell us a bit about customer marketing and why it’s so important to the marketing industry’s future.

Barbara Bernard (BB): We all know that if we delight our prospects and customers as we engage them through our marketing, sales, onboarding, customer service and technical support – and so many other touch-points – we will develop a customer for life.

And what does that give us?

Of course this translates to revenue, growth and profit but it also translates to increases is the lifetime value of a client, to increased net-promoter scores, more client references and use cases.  All of this is measurable, all of this is critical; all of this requires full focus of dedicated resources.  This is not a part-time job.

MMT: How should marketers approach bridging the gap between the front of the customer’s journey (i.e. awareness, consideration, purchase, ownership and repurchase) and the backend of the client experience (i.e. customer service, tech support, procurement, and billing)? What are some of the key results from bridging that gap from a customer loyalty standpoint?

BB: Although we are managing all of our individual touch-points very well, the trick is to make sure someone sees the entire picture from the prospect and client perspective.

The best analogy is the parable of the blind men and the elephant.  All are touching a different part of the elephant, so what they perceive it to be is very different.  If you are touching the trunk, it is a hose.  If you are touching the side, it is a wall.  If you are touching the tail, it is a rope, and so on.  Now by themselves, these blind men are incredible insightful.  But do they know the true and complete story about the elephant?  Certainly not.

And that is where this focus is critical, a view into all aspects, a goal to assess and connect, and a dedication to delighting the customer across a vast communication network – from a prospect to a valued customer who is building their future growth and success with us.

MMT: What are some of the technologies marketers have at their disposal to power that transformation into a bigger picture operation?

BB: Here, marketing automation is key.  This is not just a lead and scoring system.  If you are using it for just that, you are missing 50 percent of the customer journey.  Automation systems today are more advanced than ever.

With progressive forms and analytics, with decision trees and scoring, with a complete connectivity with your CRM system and full visibility of all interactions and experiences – your automation system is more than marketing – it is the client experience.  It is a very big responsibility, and it requires many connections within marketing, sales and client experience.

Remember – if you have a focus on customer marketing today, you are on the cusp of something great, but do not feel that you have to do it alone.  Leverage every internal resource you have because everyone truly is working towards this.  They just happen to be focusing on one part of that elephant.  Customer marketing will provide that one view of the whole. That in itself is an incredible step forward. 

MMT: How does the evolution towards more end-to-end marketing translate into demand generation?

BB: Imagine, if you will, a client so happy with you that they cannot wait to speak about it.  They are an active reference, they participate in your communities and forums, they have built a published case study that sits on your website and sales shares their experience to like-customers; this is a marketers dream come true!

All of those webinars you have scheduled to drive education and interest now have a client presenting with you.  At events, your clients happily engage with you in speaking slots.  You have this new and critical component that drives leads much faster and at a much higher volume than ever.

Happy client engagement and participation is marketing nirvana. And for end-to-end campaigns and journey mapping, this is the added fuel needed to catch the attention of any prospect.  Because once you show a prospect what you’ve done for someone like them, they will more than likely be yours for a long, long time.

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