Marketing made personal


Published on: November 2022

Marketing has fundamentally changed.

Abundant data means that marketing teams know more about customers than ever before and must make smart use of this opportunity to deepen customer relationships and grow their business.

Customer expectations have also changed. Customers expect personalized marketing outreach, and may become frustrated when they receive mass messaging, witness misaligned sales and marketing activities, or suffer from non-client-specific service.

With the wealth of information available, and to meet the new customer demand for personalization, marketers need to address the “buyer segment of one,” meaning each buyer needs to be addressed as an individual. This requires sales, marketing, customer service, and customer success to partner more closely and deliver a seamless customer experience.

The buying paradox in marketing

Marketers aren’t the only ones who can leverage the power of data. Customers also have more information than ever before about their buying choices – the companies, their offerings, and their value propositions.

Decision-making in both B2B and B2C buying cycles has grown increasingly difficult. The expansion of options for evaluating the increasingly complex network of stakeholders involved in purchase decisions, as well as uncertainty and fear regarding the future, paralyze buying decisions.

As a result, the buying process is slower and more complex, despite the desire for agility from both buyers and sellers. This is what we call the “Buying Paradox.” To address these challenges, organizations must have a well-designed marketing and sales methodology that reduces complexity for buyers and increases the agility of the marketing and sales process.

Trends in marketing

A shifting approach to marketing.  

Recent trends show that B2B and B2C marketing are merging. For example, B2B buyers expect an Amazon-like B2C buying experience that is both personal and available in real-time. This preference emerged in the 2010s and grew amid the pandemic as a result of blurring lines between “work” and “home.”


In the same day, buyers will purchase items for themselves and their family on websites like Amazon or Alibaba, and a few hours later, purchase something for their organization – all while sitting at their desk, working from home. Being in the same environment for both purchases has created an overlap in expectations – all purchase processes feel similarly easy and efficient.

Based on their buying experiences with B2C organizations, buyers now have similar expectations for B2B companies. Additionally, B2C companies are beginning to apply some approaches more typically associated with B2B, such as buying center analysis or key account management.

Increasing collaboration along the full customer journey. 

To meet customer needs in this evolving environment, marketing, sales, and customer service or success must work more closely together than ever before. Lead management must be more integrated. 

Customers expect a seamless experience, so after marketing triggers the initial lead through digital and non-digital channels, the team must ensure a white-glove hand-off so that sales can take over and close the deal. Customer service or success comes next, ensuring that the customer stays happy, creating loyalty and future opportunities that eventually turn into more leads.

Customers expect each subsequent interaction in the sales process to build off the prior ones. Thus, data and information must be shared from one role to the next so that each team has the latest insights into customers’ needs and desires. This level of collaboration will enable a consistent customer experience along the entire sales journey.  

Digital-first marketing.

Today’s customer journey and its touchpoints for decision-making are fully integrated with digital technology. Customers can search for everything online, comparing the digital presence and offerings of various market players before they even engage with a company. This demonstrates the critical need to prioritize online and digital interactions with customers.  

Additionally, with the rise of digital channels and ongoing digital transformation, collecting and analyzing quantitative data has become more accessible, putting individualized marketing not just on the horizon but in practice. Using data simplifies performance measurement and opens the doors for data-driven marketing. 

Multi-channel and omni-channel marketing.

The concepts of multi-channel and omni-channel marketing are nothing new, yet most companies still struggle to execute on these ideas. Organizations must be more than just “accessible to customers through multiple channels.”

It is critical for companies to have the right understanding of how individual customers want to interact, and then approach them in a unified manner that makes it effortless for the customer to engage. Integrating marketing and sales teams with other functions, like supply chain, will enable a seamless and more personal customer experience and allow companies to introduce a multi-channel communication strategy targeted to the “buyer segment of one.” 


Sustainability is a topic of growing importance to both customers and businesses. Customers want to know that the organizations they work with are thoughtful about their environmental impact. In many cases, customers are willing to pay a reasonable premium for an increased focus on sustainable business practices.  

Companies are beginning to recognize that sustainability is a source of differentiation and can lead to accelerated growth. Historically, sustainability was viewed as a cost that must be borne, but forward-thinking business leaders are increasingly seeing sustainability as a long-term strategy that can set them apart in the marketplace and potentially drive long-term cost savings (e.g., through AI, enhanced digital capabilities, etc.). Business leaders must adopt a long-term perspective, take a stance on their company’s role in driving sustainability, and prioritize which sustainability goals to pursue.

Making marketing and value personal

Marketing must adopt an approach that is more: 

  • Personal: Marketing must create messages that make the customer “feel seen,” as if the company is speaking directly to them and addressing their unique problem or need. 
  • Data-driven: Marketing must use data about the individual buyer, their company, and their industry to create tailored communications that resonate with each individual buyer. 
  • Results-oriented: Marketing must focus on personal outcomes for the buyer and organizational outcomes for their company, which can be achieved through selling goods and services. 
  • Integrated: The marketing cycle must be aligned with both the sales and customer service/success cycles, and all three need to be synchronized with the customer’s buying cycle. 

Adopting this new approach will help marketing campaigns become more targeted and foster a two-way engagement with customers rather than a one-way information push.

Marketing’s interconnectedness with all stages of the customer’s journey helps enable a seamless customer experience: from brand building and lead generation, through selling, closing, customer service, loyalty generation, evaluation, and results measurement.

The go-to-market cycle

Customers go through several different phases in their buying process. The marketing cycle and the go-to-market (GTM) approach must be synchronized with these phases and should be personalized to the customer, their buying cycle, and the selling cycle around it. To create a personalized go-to-market approach for your organization, check out the tips below. 

  1. Create customer understanding and insights
    Developing this deep customer understanding is powerful and goes beyond simply gathering information about your customers. It is an ongoing process designed to capture the continuous changes in customer behavior and preferences in their specific market environment.

    The key to effective marketing is to begin with rich customer information to gain a clear understanding of customer needs, and then share this with sales, customer service, research and development, and other functions. This helps the organization become better aligned while serving the customer at each touchpoint throughout their customer journey.
    To do so, start by using the information you have about your customers to clearly define their buying journey and the needs at each stage in that buying journey. Use this understanding to influence how your organization uses marketing communications at each stage to satisfy customer needs.
  2. Segment and target 
    Segmentation should be based on true customer understanding and insights. Use it to guide the actions sales and customer service take when engaging customers, and also to identify measurement in terms of results and impact. Segmentation can accelerate your marketing, sales, and overall business if you activate it by targeting the most relevant and promising segments and position yourself through segment-specific value propositions.
    In the past, segmentation work was often too broad and not actionable enough. Good segmentation starts with clear objectives and a segmentation strategy, both of which form the basis for a successful marketing mix (e.g., segment-specific value propositions, value pricing and capture, targeted campaigning, etc.).
    Though different segmentation approaches are available, the most effective one is to divide your customers into groups based on their buying journey(s) and key priorities. Then, you can determine how to interact with your customers in a tailored way throughout their buying process.
  3. Create your value proposition
    Value propositions need to show individual customers, buyers, and their organizations how your goods and services will help accelerate their ability to reach their desired results. To develop customer-specific value propositions, leverage deep customer understanding. The resulting customer-specific value propositions will deliver the base for value pricing and capturing, branding, campaigning, and ultimately selling.

    When crafting your value proposition, do not think in terms of the functionality or features of your offering. Try to think of the value created for your different customer segments by considering the following questions: What are the results they can achieve with your offerings? Which opportunities can they take advantage of? Which problems are solved? How is the execution or process improved for the customer?
  4. Capture value
    Identifying the value of a solution and translating it into a price ensures that your customer believes the value they are getting from your offering is equal to the price they are paying for it. Capturing value is about having a value-based pricing model that makes the best use of the personal value for the customer.

    Pricing is one of the most critical levers to use for increasing your organization’s profit. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of different pricing approaches and matching your pricing strategy to your organization’s overall strategy, you can expect to improve your business results. Use deep customer understanding to clarify why customers are buying your offerings through their key buying factors. Define the impact of your offerings on each of their key buying factors and their overall organization. Compare the impact of your offerings to those of your competitors and use this to guide your pricing strategy.
  5. Activate branding
    Given customers’ increasing expectations for B2B organizations, branding needs to be more targeted and personalized. The combination of digital and non-digital points of contact makes it possible to personalize branding and messaging more. At the same time, increasingly available data make it possible to measure and steer brand equity management activities better than ever before.

    To successfully develop a trustworthy and recognizable brand, identify the value you are delivering. It should be clear what your brand represents. Be sure to strengthen your positioning through clear communications and to constantly measure and interpret your brand.
  6. Communicate and promote
    Communicating and promoting personal value requires balance and coordination between both push-and-pull activities. Today, value communication is more personalized: the dream of a “buyer segment of one” and fully personalized messaging is true in many industries or markets. Be sure this communication is fully aligned with customer-centric value propositions, value pricing, and personalized branding in an integrated 360-degree approach (digital and non-digital).

    Communications take place constantly. Make sure that you are the one who is controlling the communication about your offerings and brand. Understand the needs of your customers and what is driving them to create impactful and engaging communication campaigns.
  7. Design and manage multi- and omni-channel
    Comprehensive Multi- and omni-Channel marketing needs to be aligned to the customer journey. On the various stages of the customer journey, different touchpoints are crucial for meaningful customer engagement.

    Multi- and omni-channel does not mean that you have to play in every channel. Marketing and multi-channel management are about focus and aligning to the customers’ channel and engagement preferences.
    The ultimate goal for a successful omni-channel marketing strategy is a seamless customer experience. A multi-channel approach — or in other words, engaging with your customers through their preferred channels — is the first step towards this goal.
    When crafting your approach, select the most important and relevant channels for your customer segments based on data and deep customer understanding (multi-channel). Integrate supply chain and other functions from the customer-back to deliver a seamless customer experience (omni-channel).
    Whichever path you choose, be sure to follow a clear channel strategy with measurable goals for each channel. Engage with your customers through a balance between push and pull actions within the channels.
  8. Evaluate impact
    With the volume of data available, it has become more feasible for organizations to measure the impact of their marketing activities on branding, revenue, and loyalty. However, that same volume of information is so vast that it has become more challenging to sort through and identify the true indicators of success.

    Having a plan for impact measurement and dashboards to support that ongoing measurement is key. A sound and standardized reevaluation of activities is crucial on the way to a client-, result-, and marketing-driven organization.

    Companies need to transform themselves into learning organizations, following a test-measure-learn approach in which data analysis serves as a constant driver for change and optimization. To do so, start by defining the metrics that demonstrate a customer’s progression through their buying journey, as well as their affinity for your organization. Identify which of those metrics are most likely to be impacted by each type of your marketing communications, and then track their impact once they have been deployed.


Today’s customers are more demanding and better informed – the marketing and selling environment is more challenging, and the buying processes is more complex. As a result, there is a pressing need to make marketing more impactful. 

To address these challenges, companies must have a well-designed marketing and sales methodology that reduces complexity for buyers and increases the agility of the marketing and sales process.

Marketing of the future must be more personal and center on the customer, whether while creating insights, defining value propositions, capturing value (pricing), branding, communicating, or managing channels. The customer is the key.

Marketing must also be more impactful, results-oriented, and data-driven. To do so, marketing cycles must be synchronized with sales and buying cycles. Lead management must be more integrated and data-driven, aligning marketing, sales, customer service or success.

In addressing all of these marketing challenges, consider a partner with deep expertise in not only marketing but also sales transformation. Partners who help you to define how you will approach marketing in the future, assess your organization against it, and chart a path that integrates your sales and marketing teams will set your organization up for long-term success. Focus on creating alignment, shifting mindsets, and developing your team’s capabilities in an impactful, measurable, and engaging way.


Tech CEO Research Team. (2020, June 1). Ignition Guide to Conducting Customer Segmentation as a Tech CEO. Gartner.

White, S. & Finkeldey, D. (2020, January 8). A Practical Guide to Market Segmentation. Gartner.

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