Striving for relevance with empowered customers


There are many reasons I often feel overloaded and overstimulated nowadays, so I think I can relate to my target market when they get my messages. I'd like to take a moment to set aside my usual John-the-marketer hat and explore the issue of relevance from the perspective of my target – the customer.

My fellow blogger, Deb Orton, wrote recently about how the digital marketing era requires a new definition of “best,” citing the many ways that our customers can (and do) tune us out. Is that a bad thing? As a customer, I don’t think so because I want to control what I get, when I get and and how I get it. Since I’m the customer I even get to determine the why of the communication, quite simply because I process the information under terms and conditions that make sense to me.

And guess what? The tools of the digital marketing era we live in give me more control than ever, so I hear myself referred to as the “empowered customer.” Oooohhh, I’ll repeat that because it sounds so good to my ears – the Empowered Customer. And now, with social media, I get to voice my gripes and if my followers agree with me, my grumbling and grousing can sound like I’m ranting into a megaphone next to your ear. Are you listening? Can you afford not to? Are your employees empowered to respond?

The point I am trying to make is that it is ever more important to strive for relevance as a goal for marketing. And it’s the customer that determines what is relevant – to them. So while it’s always been important to know your target market, the margin for error has become razor thin. Why? Because they can so easily tune you out and then broadcast your shortcomings if you don’t pay attention to what’s important to them.

[warning – I am putting my marketer’s hat back on] The good news is that we also live in the era of the Empowered Marketer. Never before have we had so many tools to track, report and manage our campaigns. To create and share good content. To make the connections between the content and the desired result (sales). We have the ability to measure and know what our customers want – how they want it, when they want it. And if we’re really engaged with our customers we also know why they want it.

Solutions to empower the marketer abound: Marketing Automation, Marketing Optimization, Customer Experience Analytics, Web Analytics, Social Media Analytics, Customer Link Analytics, Real-Time Decisioning. Those solutions empower the marketer to listen to their customer, understand them, anticipate their needs and plan the ways they can serve them. As empowered marketers, we have the power to achieve relevance – so let’s get to it!


About Author

John Balla

Principal Marketing Strategist

Hi, I'm John Balla - a Digital Marketing Principal here at SAS focused on Content Strategy. I co-founded the SAS Customer Intelligence blog and served as Editor for five years. I like to find and share content and experiences that open doors, answer questions and maybe even challenge assumptions so better questions can be asked. Outside of work I stay busy with my wife and I keeping up with my 2 awesome college-age kids (Go Quakers! Go Tarheels!), volunteering for the Boy Scouts, keeping my garden green, striving for green living, expressing myself with puns, and making my own café con leche every morning. I’ve lived and worked on 3 contents and can communicate fluently in Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian and passable English. Prior to SAS, my experience in marketing ranges from Fortune 100 companies to co-founding two start ups. I studied economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and got an MBA from Georgetown. Follow me on Twitter. Connect with me on LinkedIn.


  1. Loved your article. Very interesting and entertaining as always. Most importantly, so true. As a fellow customer I sometimes feel like I have all the power and although I think that's good sometimes I wonder? I also think that in using Social Media and the good customer intelligence solutions like ours that are out there and are being used by companies today they are finally beginning to know our wants and even can sometimes anticipate our needs. I like that. Not too pushy but suggestive marketing is what I prefer.

  2. Danny Strampel on

    Very true.
    I think it's the start of a revolution.
    Where the customer gets more power.
    And forces the companies to cater to their needs.
    Instead of the attitude many companies had before that they try to sell you something. This is the offer, this is how it's going to work.
    And the customer could take it or leave it.
    Making the company have the final word.
    But now the voice of the consumer is stronger.
    And when your company doesn't have a monopoly on the market they are in, they better conform to the wishes of the consumer.
    Or else they will take their needs elsewhere.
    and in the process let everybody else know about their experience as well.

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