According to Green Hat’s ‘B2B Marketing Outlook 2017’, nurturing customer relationships (75%) and optimising customer experience (68%) are 2 of the most significant objectives for B2B marketers in 2017. Yet many companies don’t have documented strategies for content marketing and branding — key promotional areas that are crucial to customer engagement and the overall survival of a business.

That’s where the marketing-led company comes in. A marketing-led company has a clear long-term focus on the customer, from customer retention and experience, to customer satisfaction and lifetime value.

In today’s customer-driven environment, a marketing-led company aims for sustainable business growth by investing in the customer experience as the top priority. In contrast, a sales-driven approach is typically short-term and transactional.

Becoming a marketing-led company doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years to build the right culture, integrate a customer-centric business model and become a thought leader and trusted advisor in the industry.

5 steps to becoming a marketing-led company

Leaders, with the right strategies in place to support the transformation, your organisation can become a marketing-led company and differentiated leader. To achieve success, a dedicated focus and long-term commitment is required. Here are 5 steps you can take to become a marketing-led company.

  1. Create the right culture

    A shift to a marketing-led organisation goes beyond internal branding and short-term solutions. It requires an internal cultural shift built on customer-centricity and long-term, sustainable outcomes. This cultural shift must be part of the company's DNA from top to bottom, inside and out. To achieve success, everyone in the organisation must live and breathe the change.

  2. Prioritise the ‘voice of the customer’

    With the right culture in place, customer-centricity should be prioritised in all areas of the business. That means that every employee is aligned with the company's new direction and has the customers’ best interests in mind. By placing the ‘voice of the customer’ high on the business agenda, you will also build a loyal customer base who do the selling for you.

  3. Invest in the customer experience

    The next step is to invest more in the customer experience and ensure that your organisation is easy to do business with. To build a world-class customer experience and reputation for the organisation, your people need to be flexible, reliable and in tune with the specific needs and expectations of customers. Front line people in particular need to be highly engaged, available and responsive to customers, as they represent human ‘touch points’ for the brand.

  4. Build a reputation as a thought leader

    With a customer-centric business model in place, the organisation can then focus on building a reputation as a thought leader. Thought leaders attract new clients due to increased brand awareness and a heightened leadership position. Being a thought leader means that the organisation is actively sought after by the industry and media for expert comment and insights. This opens up new networking opportunities and invitations to participate in industry events and awards.

  5. Become a trusted advisor

    Over time, a thought leader will gradually become recognised as the go-to partner for the sector and a trusted adviser. To become a trusted adviser, the organisation needs to build strong relationships with stakeholders, regulators and other industry leaders, advising and providing expert solutions and advice along the way. A trusted adviser has a strong ‘pull effect’, whereby the organisation is actively sought after by clients and partners alike.

In 2017, leaders need to invest in putting the customer experience first, ensuring that marketing strategies are aligned with customer needs and expectations. For most organisations, this requires both a cultural and systematic shift that takes time, commitment, investment, communication, and patience. The internal and external factors must be balanced in order to succeed, with highly engaged people who ‘walk the talk’.