What is customer-first marketing?

Customer-first marketing is a strategy by which businesses create products, content, and marketing campaigns so that their primary purpose is putting their customers first, and their organization second. That customer focus represents a significant change from traditional marketing strategy, which focused on creating marketing initiatives based on company needs instead of customer needs.

What does it mean to put customers first?

To be truly customer-first, businesses need to do more than just talk the talk. They need to rebuild their organization around a single-minded focus on the customer and how their organization can make a positive impact on their customers’ lives. Customer-first businesses don’t hesitate to seek out customer feedback and use it to inform their business actions, from product roadmaps to marketing and beyond. Through this responsive feedback loop, businesses can successfully discover, understand and meet their customers’ needs early and often. Collecting customer insights should be a company-wide initiative and a regularly occurring priority, but often marketing teams are at the forefront of the drive to put customers first.  So…

How can you introduce your team to customer-first marketing?

Taking on customer-first marketing is no easy feat — but it’s important. So we’ve laid out how to kickstart your customer-first strategy in this guide.

customer-first marketing 7-step infographic

Not a visual learner? Here’s the plain text guide.

If you only create outbound marketing, you’ll miss an even bigger opportunity to give value to your customer when they’re actively searching for answers. Billions of people are searching for your solutions every year, will they find you?

Customers have gone from captive to empowered. Marketers are facing a new generation of customers who are empowered to skip ads or content that doesn’t actually solve their problem.

Customers don’t look for a business – they look for solutions. They will find you if you provide value.

Traditional marketing asks the questions:

  • Who can we sell our products to?
  • How do we convince people to buy?
  • How can we get them to buy again?

Customer-first marketing asks the questions:

  • What problems do we solve?
  • Who has these problems?
  • How will customers find our solutions?

Customers want value. Customers want you to provide relevant information to help solve their problems. They want your help in making a decision. And they want 24/7 support through all stages of their purchase journey.

“We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.” -Craig Davis, Former Chief Creative Officer of J. Walter Thompson Worldwide

The only algorithm that matters is the heart and mind of your customer. Google’s algorithm is simple: it strives to surface content that provides relevant, timely value for people who are searching.

If you focus on building content that matches your customers’ intent across the purchase journey, you won’t need to spend another day thinking about what Google might do next.

Simple, one-word changes can help you reach your customers. Your audience is already telling you what they want – you just need to listen.

“We can’t have a marketing program without customer insights. We need to intimately understand them. We can’t be self-serving. We have to serve our customer.” – Brendan Anderson, VP of Marketing of Char-Broil

So, how do you do customer-first marketing?

  1. Identify opportunities to solve problems for your customers.
  2. Create or modify content to address gaps where your customers are searching, but aren’t finding you.
  3. Empower multiple teams in your org to make better decisions with customer data.


Looking to improve your customer-first strategy? See what marketing experts have to say in our webinar, Customer-First Marketing: From Experience to Engagement to ROI.