Customer-led Marketing is the Future of Brand Marketing

Consumers are tired of creepy ads that make them feel like brands are listening to their conversations. They are tired of influencers peddling obscure products. And even as the world is suffering from ad targeting and influencer fatigue, brands are driving up the prices of digital advertising and slashing ROI.  Brands with large growth aspirations need something new. A growth philosophy bigger than various pay-to-play channels. A north star.  That growth philosophy is Customer-led Marketing. And it’s the future of digital eCommerce marketing.  

customer-led marketing is a big component of brands' black friday sales, like Indochino featured here
Ordinary customers organically promote Indochino’s Black Friday sales

What is Customer-led Marketing?

Customer-led Marketing is a growth model for brands that recognizes that in today’s digital world, a brand’s customers are its most valuable marketers and creators.  

Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) has always been the most effective way to drive purchases. The problem used to be scale. A marketer could easily run an ad that reaches millions of consumers, but word of mouth could not easily generate a comparable level of awareness.  

That has changed. Via social media, a brand’s customers can become nano-influencers and make thousands of times more content than the brand itself, and their collective reach is far greater than that of the brand.

While the potential of customer content and UGC is increasing, brands are also having an increasingly hard time building a competitive advantage with ad-targeting and influencers. Those channels are saturated, and the premium brands pay has eroded their ROI. Furthermore, there are limits to how much those channels can scale since no one has an infinite ad budget.  

These facts have led to the rise of Customer-led Marketing – a model that means that customers aren’t just driving some value for the brands (like legacy word-of-mouth) – but they are now driving the MAJORITY of value for the brand.  

The fastest growing brands are focused on Customer-led Marketing

Just like how the fastest growing technology companies feature “Product-led Growth”, the fastest growing brands in the world feature Customer-led Marketing.  

Brands like Morphe, Gymshark, Supreme (now LVMH) and Fashion Nova are now growing faster than anyone in their respective categories by getting thousands of their customers to create content every day. For each of these brands, the media value of their earned content far exceeds the value of their own content, and they are driving more awareness through their customers.  

Morphe empowers its customers to make user-generated content for their audiences
Not just another makeup photo… top brands show customers what cool UGC looks like

The catch – these brands are also EXCELLENT at branding and have products customers love. If you have:

  1. A brand that people want to be associated with
  2. A product people love
  3. The ability to activate your customers

There’s a good chance you could be going to the moon with Customer-led Marketing.  

How to create a Customer-led Marketing strategy.

Brands can take several easy steps to start implementing Customer Led Growth strategy:  

Make it cool to tag your brand

Nobody is going to post about your brand if it doesn’t make them look good. What does your brand stand for? What type of content can someone create for you that help promote your brand AND make someone look good (why are you feed-worthy).

If you’re a dumbbell brand… that probably means people doing curls and not static shots of your product. If you’re a subscription brand… maybe you have really cool / upscale packaging and unboxing videos are feed-worthy. Understand what your core customers would post, and then.

Launching an ambassador / influencer program with strong branding is another way to make it cool to tag your brand. PrettyLittleThing recruits thousands of college students across United States’ campuses.

PrettyLittleThing takes customer-led marketing by storm by making every student want to be part of the prestigious influencer program

The PrettyLittleThing #ClassOfPLT program makes featuring the brand on Instagram and TikTok enviable. Brand ambassadors report jealousy coming from students who are not in the program.

Ask your customers for UGC

The easiest way to get more customers creating content is to ask them. Most customers want to engage with a brand because it’s cool and they love creating content. A brand can call out in their social profile, transactional emails, and labeling that they’d like customers to tag them in UGC.

PrettyLittleThing uses a bus tour around college campuses to recruit people for its influencer program.
PrettyLittleThing does an annual bus tour across target college campuses to build hype around their student influencer programming on social media

Repost and engage

When your brand gets tagged in content, share that to your website, story or feed. That shows your customers that you value the content they create, and that they have a chance to be featured.  

Hairstory featured top organic content from their ambassadors, on their website

Nudge them with incentives –

If you want to drastically increase the amount of UGC you get, start rewarding customers for posting. Sending them discounts and gifts is rewarding without being overly transactional. Avoid paying cash. That’s tacky and transactional.  

Measure the results

As with any type of marketing, a brand should monitor their results to see which strategies are resonating with their customers.

If you want support achieving Customer-led Marketing, LoudCrowd works with some of the fastest growing brands in the world and has the software / expertise to get you there. Contact [email protected] for more information or request a demo today.

About LoudCrowd

We believe that the most effective way of marketing and selling your product is through word-of-mouth marketing.  Currently, the best (and most engaging way) for brands to scale word-of-mouth marketing is through User Generated Content (UGC) on social platforms like Instagram. LoudCrowd helps you analyze your UGC and incentivize your customers to grow it.

About the Author

Gary Garofalo is a marketing focused technologist and the CEO of LoudCrowd. He’s spent his career focused on analytics, strategic consulting, and building technology companies. When he’s not writing about social media, he spends his free time reading, lamenting over the risks of climate change and artificial intelligence, and playing pickleball with the LoudCrowd team.

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