Many farers in the seas of marketing were taught to think of the customer as their north star. Marketers and marketing analysts know customer wants, needs, fears and aversions and bring that knowledge to bear when making or influencing business decisions. Because marketers are the holders and evangelists of the truth that businesses won’t succeed unless they align their interests with that of their customers. And if customers don’t benefit from a business’s success, that success won’t last long.
Yet in spite of most marketers understanding this maxim, so many steer their ships off-course. They disregard — or worse, work against — customers’ interests for short-term gains. At what cost? Higher attrition, reputational damage, susceptibility to disruption, and maybe even legal action, among other consequences.
Marketers’ abuse of customer trust persists at high levels. Marketers and analysts are currently experiencing a storm-like convergence of challenges, amidst customer data scandals and breaches and following the launch of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). But if there’s any benefit to this newfound, not-exactly-glowing outside scrutiny of marketing, it’s a call to self-examination. To re-chart missions and get back on course. At the core of the customer-level data collection that fuels digital marketing is a tacit agreement — now made explicit by GDPR — that customers give their info but get something in return, and that exchange will be transparent.