Our Customer Marketing Framework
The benefits of customer retention and cross-sell/upsell are well-documented. Common principles like the 80/20 rule and how much cheaper it is to retain, rather than gain a customer are quoted often. And so, this isn’t a post aiming to convince you of customer marketing’s benefits. Instead, this post will outline the customer marketing framework we use to assess, optimize and implement the customer marketing objectives of our clients. This is a look behind the green curtain of LeadMD.
As you answer the questions throughout this blog, you may determine a customer marketing focus isn’t necessary for your business. However, I’d wager the majority of our readers will find it’s an area of tremendous growth opportunity.
Setting the Revenue Acceleration Framework Stage
If you’ve been hanging out with us on our website and blog over the past year (and why wouldn’t you?!), you might be familiar with our Revenue Acceleration Framework. The RAF (or RevenueAF) as we’ve affectionately – and cleverly – dubbed it, is our secret sauce. It guides us through the plans and tactics we implement by way of our client’s strategic revenue goals.
Often, when future customers come to us, their catalyst is a frustration with something on the right — the tactics. For each specific tactic (again, that’s the whole column on the right), we have a sub-framework which shows all the elements involved to get to that tactic. We challenge our clients to back up, alllllll the way to the left — the strategy. The rest of this blog will walk you through our customer marketing framework – or sub-framework, technically, but we’ll use the term framework for ease.
What is your organizational strategy?
The savviest CMOs we consult are well aware that their marketing strategies must stem from – and support – the overarching corporate strategy of the company in order to drive growth. If you’re curious how to do this, I wrote about it here. Ask yourself the following questions to get started:
- How much market penetration does our business have?
- Do we have high market segment penetration but low share of wallet?
- Is expanding into new accounts a big part of our growth plan?
- Is there a lot of opportunity to cross-sell and upsell our existing customer base?
How you answer these questions (and if you can answer them) will inform how much of your strategic efforts (and budget) should be directed toward Customer Marketing, if any.
A single product SaaS company will have very different needs in this area than a SaaS platform brand will. The single product SaaS company will likely require some light Customer Marketing, but new customer acquisition will surely reign supreme. Alternatively, the SaaS platform company might spend as much as half of its efforts and budget on Customer Marketing, because much of its growth strategy hinges on growing existing customer relationships.
Once you confirm customer marketing fits into your larger organizational strategy, it’s time to dig in to the actual customer marketing framework. Our frameworks all have the same five components: Strategy, Planning, Process, Development and Execution.
Customer Marketing Strategy
This phase is the first and most critical component of the customer marketing framework. It includes:
Do you know who your alignment needs to be with?
Most Customer Marketing departments or programs require deep collaboration with customer success, sales and oftentimes product teams.
Do certain segments of your customers offer more opportunity than others?
Buyer & User Personas
Do you have accurate, updated buyer personas created that can be used to develop your strategy?
How you’ve segmented your customers, and the corresponding personas, will be used to rank and prioritize where you spend your effort, depending on where you have low penetration and where you have high potential within accounts.
TIP: Ensure your personas have hard and fast data points, not just generic concepts. Eventually, the strategic elements of customer marketing must be operationalized and you’ll need personas with enough meat on the bones to make that happen. For more on this, check out this article, “Buyer Personas Are Useless and Fluffy“.
Objectives & KPIs
Again using a SaaS company as an example, onboarding and enablement would be the focuses here. Objectives would center on getting more people into the platform and getting them comfortable with it, and KPIs would center on user engagement. A different company in a different industry might shape its objectives around engaging buyers, and then demonstrating further use cases of other service offerings, setting different KPIs to measure success.
Customer Marketing Planning
This is an area where we see a lot of marketing teams struggle and it deserves a deep dive. To that point, another member of our consulting team will dig in further into each item in a future blog post, but I want to outline the basics:
- Messaging & positioning. Good ole marketing stuff.
- Organization design. Ensure you have the right resources on your marketing team to focus on this area of customer lifecycle, and that they’re aligned with strategies, objectives and KPIs.
- Budget planning. All the strategy in the world means nothing if you can’t pay to implement it.
- Campaign/play planning. This involves going through and understanding what campaigns you’re executing, and what KPIs need to be tracked based on that.
- Content/asset planning.
Customer Marketing Process
Like planning, process is an area where many organizations start to falter. The best laid plans without a process to get them across the finish line are useless. We’ll dig into each of these in a future post too, but in the meantime, this section encompasses:
- Lifecycle. You’ll need a solid understanding of the customer lifecycle, pre-sale and post-sale, so it can be integrated into your strategy.
- Scoring. Often seen as a function of demand generation, you’re leaving money on the table by not invoking it in the customer lifecycle for product usage and cross-sell opportunities.
- Routing and conversion. Who will own the customer purchases after the initial sale? This could be a whole eBook worth of advice!
- Sales process alignment. Your sales process in particular must be aligned with your customer lifecycle, and include logical next steps for the customer both from the sales and marketing points of view.
Customer Marketing Development
It’s been a long road to get to this point, the internal development of all the things you planned to do. This isn’t customer-facing yet, but we are so close to it becoming so!
- Campaign/play development.
- Content/asset development.
- Sales enablement.
- Operational readiness.
Customer Marketing Framework Execution
Hey rubber, meet road. All the strategy, all the planning, all the building, it all comes down to execution now. And so, with all these pieces firmly in place, it’s time to hit the very literal button on the execution. If your sales team needs to change the way they talk, they start now. If the marketing team needs to put out a newsletter, it deploys now. This last step is one of action!
- Operationalization. Get ‘er done!
- KPIs and dashboard. These need to map back to the initial objectives and KPIs that you decided on back in the strategy phase. Also, you must keep the KPIs highly visible and actionable, so you can make sure everyone is playing on the same sheet of music.
- Optimization. The best laid plans also need adjusting at times. Don’t fear failure, expect that on the path to extreme success, you’ll need to adjust course more than once.
Okay, so we just covered a lot of ground. Let it all sink in, and then think about which areas are self-explanatory to you and which ones aren’t. Are there pieces of the Customer Marketing framework you’re struggling with? Where could you use some help?
When all is said and done, your success with Customer Marketing depends on fleshing out each of these areas. But I want to leave you with a few more tips I’ve learned through the years…
- Make sure the allocation of resources, people and dollars, you put toward Customer Marketing fits the role it plays in your larger marketing strategy. In other words, if it’s a huge growth driver for you, it needs more marketing spend and attention. If not, you need to reduce or eliminate what you’re throwing toward it.
- Assign a singular person within marketing to be accountable for Customer Lifecycle Marketing, and make sure they’re aligned with a similar person in sales.
Remember when laying the groundwork for this whole process:
- Customer Segmentation: You’ll have a major leg up if you know and understand who your customers are and how they segment into different needs, and then can map your marketing activity to those segments.
- Lifecycle Model: Having a well-defined lifecycle model that includes post-customer acquisition is crucial to success. You must understand where in that lifecycle each customer is, so you can take actions with them in relation to where they are in that journey.
- Organizational/Design: Ensure you have dedicated resources in place to support the strategy that is being developed.
There’s a lot of variability when it comes to Customer Marketing, including your industry, products/services, growth strategy and more. But hopefully this Customer Marketing framework helps you understand the best way to approach it, and how to map your efforts to the desired outcomes you have with your customers or marketing efforts.
Any questions? We’d love to help.
Meet JT Bricker
As a strategic marketing leader, J.T. leads teams in helping clients design and execute actionable marketing and sales strategies and impactful execution that drive revenue growth and profitability. He works closely with organizations to develop a strategically grounded approach to marketing and sales with a blend of strategy, analytics, technology and creative to achieve growth objectives. J.T. works with the LeadMD team in advising clients on best practices in revenue growth strategies, strategic sales and marketing alignment, account-based strategies, demand generation, marketing technology, marketing operations, analytics and sales management. Prior to joining LeadMD, J.T. held a variety of marketing leadership and strategic consulting roles including management consultant, marketing operations, pricing and offer management, demand generation and analytics in multiple enterprise organizations.