Speaking at the Festival of Marketing, Lego Chief Marketing Officer Mark Blackburn said that most brands will be able to identify “significant barriers” to true customer centricity.

Customer-centricity is a goal for many brands, but Lego’s marketing director believes that while most marketers claim to put the customer at the center of decision-making, many fail to do so.

Speaking at last week’s Fast Forward Marketing Festival event, Mark Blackburn believes that how a brand interacts with its customers is “a direct reflection of how your company is organized” and, in particular, how the “marketing team” is organized.

“If you think about how your company is organized from a marketing perspective, I’m sure you can identify some significant barriers to true customer centricity,” he said, speaking at the Festival of Marketing: Fast Forward last week.

Drawing on his own experience at an insurance company, Blackburn described how, despite claiming to be customer-centric, the company failed to listen to customer demands to buy directly from the brand.

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He said the brand was set up in such a way that the sales department would “veto” decisions despite “overwhelming” customer requests to buy directly from the brand.

“This protected the 150,000 agents who sell insurance on the street or through banks and other intermediaries,” Blackburn said.

“As a result, other, more nimble competitors moved more quickly to a direct sales model through e-commerce and disintermediated the entire industry.” This led this particular brand to a long-term loss of profits, market share and stock price. Would this company call itself customer-centric today? Absolutely, yes.”

If you think about how your company is organized from a marketing standpoint, I’m sure you can identify some significant barriers to true customer centricity.

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Blackburn also cautioned brands that the people who work in a company are just as important – if not more so – than the processes and technology implemented to drive brand value and profits.

“[There are] three universally recognized ingredients for success: people, processes and technology. When you combine them all together and hit the mark, you succeed. But don’t forget that people create the process. And guess what? People also create technology.

To be truly customer-centric, Blackburn urged brands to ensure that their teams “reflect society” by encouraging diversity and inclusion.

He cited McKinsey data showing that a more gender-focused workforce can provide a 21 percent increase in earnings before interest and taxes and a more ethnically diverse team by 33 percent.

“My contention today is that at the end of the day, when it comes down to it, it’s all about the people.” A blatant statement of the obvious, I know, but sometimes it’s worth repeating,” Blackburn said.

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