The Role of Marketing in Scaling a Small Business using Customer Centricity

One way that small businesses can continue to be not only relevant but in some ways even compete (or out-compete the large competitors) is through obsessing about their customers and creating meaningful experiences for them.

Marketing can play a very important role in this journey by not only knowing who the customer is for their product or service but also ensuring that the entire organisation knows about it as well. This shared understanding enables everyone in the organisation to align and find ways to make a difference in the lives of the customers.

– The product development team now knows exactly for whom they are building their product for. They understand the reality of their lives and what challenges will their product or service address for them.

– The customer service team now knows the context in which the customer uses your product and the kind of importance they place on your product functioning the way it is supposed to function. They can also understand and build a process to ensure that they keep this information at the center of how they respond to the requests from customers. They might even find ways to eliminate issues by learning the most common ways that your product might be creating troubles for the customers.

– The accounting team now knows more about the customer and can find ways to make their interactions with the customers a meaningful, delightful or an efficient one (depending on how they would like to engage). The accounting could make the invoicing, payment and any other process that they use to interact with the customers meaningful for them.

– The sales teams would know how to position the product and create meaningful interactions based on the knowledge of the customers. They can create powerful and meaningful moments out of their sales closures and even when they lose deals, find a way to make it memorable for the customers.

– The HR team would now know what kind of people that we need to hire to do well with this kind of customers & what kind of work environment do these people need. This will inform their HR policies, perks and the places they will go looking for the prospective employees.

– The leaders would know what kind of culture they need to create in order to retain their employees so that they can, in turn, do well to retain our customers.

– The procurement teams would know the kind of vendors that they would need to work with, in order to be able to help the company create meaningful experiences for the customers.

– The partnering team will know what kind of partners do they need to identify and partner with. Where and what kinds of partnerships, distribution and/or channel partners do they need in order to not only reach these customers but also to serve them in meaningful ways.

When every part of our organisation obsessed over how to deliver meaningful experiences for our customers, the customers tend to reciprocate by staying loyal and growing their relationships with our business. This is probably one of the fastest ways for a small business to create a competitive advantage for themselves and at the same time scale their business really quickly.



Finding Our Centre Of Excellence

I read a post by Mitch Joel (one of my insanely awesome people) where he proposes a 7 step model to define what could be our centre of excellence. Please do read his post here.

I wanted to do this exercise and the result is as below:

  1. The Tactic: My tactic of my primary output is content, just like Mitch himself.
  2. The Format: My format is text and audio.
  3. The Frequency: This is a place where i need to improve significantly. I have committed to myself that i will create content everyday in text and at least once a week in audio.
  4. The Triangle of Attention: Here i have a slightly different take than Mitch. I don’t have three topics where i spend my attention, it is 5 – Sales, Marketing, Innovation, Leadership & Entrepreneurship. So, for me its a pentagon, rather than a triangle.
  5. The Bullseye: My bull’s eye is “Innovation”. For me, the primary focus is to find ways to bring innovation to every field of my focus to see how I can become an agent of transformation for my audience, their businesses and ultimately, their lives.
  6. The Promoter: I promote my content primarily on twitter and some specific whatsapp groups that i am a part of. Some of my content is also syndicated on other much more popular sites, so that helps as well. I know that this is not sufficiently large group of people. This is something that I am going to continue to work on, so that i can increase the impact that my thinking has on this world.
  7. The Analysis and Adjustment Bureau: I do continue to explore which of my content works. What I haven’t done, at least not as effectively as I would need to, is to understand the reasons why the content that works and why something doesn’t work. This is another area of learning for me, just from doing this exercise.

As you can see, just by going through this 7 step process, I have been able to identify at least two areas that I need to focus and improve on, so that I am able to create a unique brand for myself around my topics of interest.

I would now strongly urge each one of you reading this, to go ahead and do this exercise – for yourself and if you are a business owner or a product owner, do this for your business and the product as well. You will be surprised at the level of clarity you will have once you have gone through this exercise.

If you do go ahead and do this exercise, I would love to know if it helped. Also, if would be great if you could also leave a comment on Mitch’s blog page with the result, so he knows that his model actually helped you clearly articulate your priorities and that he is having an impact on this world, one person at a time.

Lessons In Customer Loyalty

lessons in Customer Loyalty

The Offer:

I got a message from Raymond indicating that they missed me as I had not shopped with them for some time and that they would love to have me back to their shop. And that they would like to give me a  gift of INR 500.


It clearly says that the discount code is not valid for a certain items and end the message with T&C, with no further information.

I did feel good about this and decided to take them up on their offer. I visited their showroom and was in for a surprise. The first thing I was informed was that I can redeem the code only on a purchase of INR 3500 or more.

I did expect something of that sort but was still disappointed by this step taken by Raymond. The minimum ticket size of anything that I could pick up from the store was about INR 1500 and i was hoping that the brand would have allowed the discount to be applicable on that ticket size.

However, that was not be the case and that did not leave a positive impression on me or a few other customers who walked in using the same offer.

I did exit without actually doing any purchase.

My brand loyalty with Raymond did take a hit as a result of this transaction. The next time they send me a message like this one, the message most probably would hit the trash as I’ve lost trust.

Now lets look at another example of a similar exercise done by Amazon.


I also got an email from Amazon with a gift voucher for INR 50. It was simple, small and a sweet gift that was sent to me (and am sure to a countless other customers) just before their big festive sale is about to begin. This small little token from Amazon, while not very much in terms of monetary amount, but came with no strings attached. I could spend that amount on anything that i wanted (within a month of course).

I am sure that i will end up buying something from Amazon (whether or not I originally planned to) and more importantly my loyalty with Amazon has been strengthened as a result of this transaction.

Now lets try to decode what could marketers learn about customer loyalty from these two examples:

What could Raymond have done differently:

They used this as a tactic to lure me into their shop. It was all about the brand from thereon.

Don’t Trick Your customers. Its not good for business.

Ideally, they could have used the principle of reciprocity and not have the minimum purchase term at all. This would have created a more positive affinity towards the brand.

They could have mentioned that the discount is valid only on purchase of INR 3500 only in the text message that they sent out. They did mention that the coupon cant be used on certain things, they could also have said about the minimum purchase condition.

Alternately, they could have given a smaller amount as a discount and not have any strings attached on the minimum billing, similar to what Amazon did in the second example.

Be Creative & Use Psychology of Influence/Persuasion

The brand could have been a bit more creative and ask us to share the message on social media about the offer from the Raymond Shop once we bought something from there.

They could have also paired it with a voucher code that the customers could send to a few of their friends to use. This could have the potential of increasing the brand affinity of the people who buy from Raymond as they have publicly stated that they like Raymond and have invited their friends to try out as well.

In addition, this could also have helped in building a pipeline of prospective customers for the business who may or may not have been a Raymond customer.

Think from the Customers Perspective

It is important to put yourself in your customers shoe and think about your offer from their perspective. This is what allows you to think through the entire interaction with the brand and not just one off transaction. Had someone thought through the entire journey, there could have been multiple touch points where they could potentially have found ways to not only improve the brand affinity but increase their purchase and potentially create new customers as well.


So, if you are a marketer, where is your offer failing you?


PBTO36: Why Giving a Damn is Underrated and Caring is a Competitive Advantage with Bernadette Jiwa

Give a Damn or Care

In this post, we host best selling author, Bernadette Jiwa. She has a blog “The Story of Telling” where she shares her thoughts on marketing and branding in general and brand story telling in particular. She is one of the top 100 marketing/branding experts to follow on Twitter.

In this conversation, we dig deep into her latest book – Meaningful. She shares multiple stories that form the crux of her Story Strategy blueprint. You can find all the case studies that she mentions here.

You can reach here on Twitter @BernadetteJiwa.

The Rule of One

The Rule of One

I reached home late yesterday. My son was waiting for me to come home so he can show off what he did the day and spend sometime with me, playing and simply chilling. I was tired and so distracted. While I was talking to him, I was also distracted and not fully with him. He was able to sense that and tell me to stop everything and be with him for sometime.

My wife has caught me many times fiddling with my phone while talking to her.

I understand that this is a cardinal mistake that I do when it comes to developing a strong relationship.

People generally like to have our complete attention when we are with them. I am working on developing my ability to implement the rule of one – One thing at a Time, One person at a time, One task at a time, one device at a time. I know that me being obsessed with technology will take some time to get over.

When you think about it, we do the same mistake all the time in our business as well.

If we are in marketing, we talk to customer segments, usually not defined tightly enough.

If we are in sales or customer service, we are always looking at the next customer in line.

We are always in a hurry. I think there is a lot of benefit to be had, if we slow down and give our complete attention to the person in front of (on call or chat) with us.

People notice when they get such attention, as it is so rare.

People reciprocate by giving their complete attention and share themselves fully and if they find true engagement, they go out and talk about their experience.

When you give attention is when you get it.

Attention is the most important currency in the always busy, always connected world and if you have the attention. Once you have this, you need to make the most out of it by being completely engaged and not squander it away.

So, how do you ensure that?

Follow the “Rule of One”

The Rule of One:

At any given moment, you will only attend to one customer, one task or one interaction.

Online marketplaces and big data has allowed a lot of tech savvy organisations to even look at creating a market of one. But that is a discussion for another day.