Growth Insights for CEOs

What Can Tesla Teach Us About Customer-Focus?

Posted by Deborah Fell



iStock_84736709_MEDIUM.jpgI wouldn’t mind getting my hands on a Tesla. Sleek, fast, future-forward – and electric to boot – the unique combination of “smart” and sustainability features on the Model S, Model X, and Model 3 make the car company’s offerings so irresistible to buyers, that Elon Musk and his team have struggled to keep up with demand.

How was Tesla able to cause such a quick and disruptive stir? For starters, they equipped themselves with robust, detailed analytical information and anecdotal knowledge about their higher-end market, including what potential buyers were looking for (and missing out on) in driving their current electric car or luxury vehicle. In addition, they set out to pair their one-of-a-kind automobile with an exclusive customer experience, driven by clear company values, psychographic and needs-based understanding of their customer segments, core insights about what their customers value, and a passion to translate this into customer deliverables. 

As other business owners and CEOs watch Musk thrive with cars – and rockets, too – many are dying to know how to become “that brand,” the one that is able to tap into customer passions in a way that strikes fear in other auto makers – even given a record of manufacturing delays. The good news is, equipped with the knowledge gained from market insights about your industry and its customers – and a little focused strategy – you, too, can develop well-designed customer-driven initiatives for your company.

Building Customer-Focused Initiatives

Before you buckle your seatbelt, though, and prepare to roll out your shiny, new marketing initiative – remember that the details of the initiative are nothing without your customers’ acceptance and ultimate adoption of it. As Chief Outsiders’ principals Art Saxby and Pete Hayes explain to us in The Growth Gears, executing with efficiency requires the right resources, tactics, and metrics – but ultimately, the definition of “right” (and go-to-market success) depends on how your customers regard the enterprise.

How can you give your clientele more of what they want, which is more of what you are uniquely positioned as a company to provide? Don’t just think terms of the details of your product and services, CEO; it’s how your organization delivers those products and services that really matters.

Ensure that your company is poised to execute your new marketing strategy in a way that is fully focused on the customer. Here are three ways to get there:

  1. Put Customer Experience (CX) First. While it’s tempting to put all of your resource and strategy initiatives into convincing your target audience that your product or service is for them, instead, place the spotlight on the customer’s interactions with your brand, its people, and your products and services. For example, your marketing team can make it easier for your customer to obtain your goods by offering them online, in addition to their usual placement in brick and mortar stores.

Also, you can recognize loyal and repeat customers. While loyalty programs, give-away programs and the like are common – and perhaps even table stakes – a company that offers recognition and appreciation of repeat customers in any way will stand out. And it doesn’t have to be discounting: a company that sells food or beverage products can offer free recipes to their social audience, for instance.

If you’re focused on reaching a certain demographic, like a millennial audience, for example, work on adjusting your distribution model by allowing them to customize their experience. Do you own a mattress store? Let customers view the mattress features in detail and choose from the different models on your website. Better yet, let them also curate their own look online with bed linens and watch their engagement and your revenue grow.

Also, maintaining a cohesive, multi-channel strategy on your website, social media profiles, as well as point-of-purchase in store, for example, are just some of the non-negotiables that needed to provide a relevant, engaging – and repeating -- customer experience. Better yet, according to Inc.com, distribution innovation, such as delivery, sampling or through partnerships can really turn your customers into fans of the brand.

  1. Actualize an Experience at Every Point in the Buyer’s Journey. This is where the multi-channel strategy comes into full effect. Today’s customers expect a 360-degree customer experience, says Fast Company. Your marketing and sales teams must be selling what your brand is promising (and vice versa). Your social, as well as your sales, marketing and operations channels can help provide a 24/7 listening, sensing, and engagement strategy with customers. And by acting on the feedback, you can build that wall-to- wall CX your clients are seeking. 
  1. A C-Suite commitment to culture. Customer experience can be directly correlated to company culture – and the CEO, with strong support from the CMO, must lead that cultural shift. As noted in this article by Forbes, there is still a gaping disconnect in the marketplace between consumer expectations, and employee delivery. Failing to close customer feedback loops, and a perception that your brand is less than transparent, are just a couple of the possible brand blunders you may experience without a full-on, company-wide commitment to a client-focused culture.A true, memorable customer experience is about all-inclusive strategic alignment between the customer’s engagement expectations, brand promise and the company culture behind the brand. 

Despite all the shiny new bells and whistles available to customers today, even the Model X fails to appear as glistening and innovative without the sales, marketing, operational support and execution to proper it up on a customer’s pedestal. To win in today’s fast-paced market, CEOs must be 100 percent committed to customer-focused strategy alignment. That alignment or lack thereof, is evidenced and evaluated at every point in the buying experience, by, you guessed it: the customer!

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Author

cmo-Deborah-Fell_sm-1.jpg

Deborah Fell, CMO, Chief Outsiders, is an expert at helping companies identify where the opportunities are (whether growth strategy or marketing productivity), and help them assess and develop more actionable and effective marketing strategies. You can call her at 240.494.6404 or email her at dsfell@chiefoutsiders.com. 

She is an outsourced CMO with 30+ years of strategic and tactical marketing experience, including Senior Vice President, Global Marketing Marriott International; Division Manager, AT&T; CMO, furniture industry; Sr. Product Manager, detergent industry, amongst others. In recent years she has leveraged her strong strategy and implementation skills to help mid-sized businesses and mentor start-ups across numerous industries (including healthcare insurance, technology apps, craft brewing, etc.). Deborah resides in the Washington, D.C. area.

Topics: Business Growth Strategy, Business Planning, Consumer Insights, Strategic Insights