One question always come up when creating new B2B marketing content: should we focus on what the product does, or how it helps our customers? For every marketing organization, the answer is different, but the best organizations understand how and when to use each approach.

To strike the right balance between the two, you have to first figure out towards which approach your organization leans.

Product Centric Approach
Product centric businesses concentrate on their products more than on their customers. They invest money and effort in developing new, better products, and their product lines define their business identities. Companies driven by their products center all marketing around new product launches and developments. Their corporate imagery features product photos.

Customer Centric Approach
Customer centric businesses have robust mechanisms designed to augment customer experiences. Such firms value and consider customer satisfaction in everything they do. They talk about experiences, and benefits, and often feature imagery of people on their marketing pieces. They design pricing models to fit customers lives and often integrate them with partners and offer platform deals. You can also spot a customer centric approach on the support end; a customer centric organization will offer personal customer support as opposed to online resources that explain products.

Balancing Product Centric and Customer Centric Marketing

The right balance between product and customer centric marketing comes from an understanding of your buyer experience. When you know how your buyers think at every stage of their interaction with your organization, you can easily determine how to market to them.

  • Outline your customer experience. Start with the very beginning of the buying cycle – when anyone who interacts with your brand is anonymous – and end with engaged customer. Then define customer needs at each phase of the buying cycle. Anonymous leads don’t want detailed guides on how to use your products. But customers who’ve already bought do.
  • Map product features to buyer types. Figure out who your customers are, and how they use your product. If managers respond to a particular feature, target managers with product marketing around that feature. Better targeting can help you position product features to an audience that will respond to them.

While many organizations default to product-centric approaches because they don’t have the marketing resources to spin up market leadership through big ideas, many others make it so hard for potential buyers to figure out what they do that they end up disappearing before they become prospects. Your marketing approach should focus on marketing the right product features to the audience that will understand the benefits. Your marketing intelligence determines how well you can target prospects, and will make or break your entire marketing approach.