July 26, 2019

Customer Circle of 5ths

Steve Kellogg

Steve Kellogg
VP Marketing Automation/UBM/Informa

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We all know CX will likely become the main key competitive differentiator at some point. It already has in some sectors. To help drive this home, I recently created what I am calling the 'Customer Circle of 5ths', to help Marketing, Sales, Service, and PR/Brand Departments visualize how each contributes to this, and what the cause/effect relationships between them are, from the customer's POV. This also turned out to be a simple visual that identifies and delivers the core criteria almost every customer needs in order to say 'yes'.

In music theory, the circle of fifths is the relationship among the 12 tones of the chromatic scale. In this article we'll explore the choreographed relationships between marketing, customer experience, and branding, using my own version of the Circle of 5ths.

The goal of the Circle of 5ths is to quickly understand how CX, Marketing and Branding each contribute to delivering the most important criteria customers need in order to say 'yes'. So what is the most important criteria?

Think about any purchase decision you've ever made. There were 3 things that likely had to be in place before you said 'yes':

  1. Relevance
  2. Trust
  3. An Emotional Connection

Let's take the example of booking a flight. You had to first find an airline that went to your destination (relevance). Then you had to have confidence that their planes were safe (trust). But those two things alone usually aren't enough to say yes, all other things being equal. There had to be an emotional connection. So, in our example, if you had established relevance and trust with 2 airlines, but you only had a positive emotional connection with one of them, that's who you'd very likely have chosen.

So how does marketing, CX and branding all contribute to providing relevance and trust, while fostering a positive emotional connection?

In short, CX drives an emotional connection to the brand, which drives acceptance/engagement in further marketing, fueled by a CTA that contributes to a positive interaction, which starts the cycle all over again.

Let's look at a B2B example:

Customer Circle of 5ths Chart

A lead might enter the Circle of 5ths at any part of the cycle, but the flow is always the same. Each time they complete the circle, ever-increasing levels of relevance, trust, and emotional connections are (hopefully) established.

So what actions can you take from this? You see the dependencies these have on each other. If one falls short, the entire circle suffers.

Stating the obvious - whether you are in marketing, sales or customer service, you have to be ruthless about creating a positive interaction. Every activity you are involved in that the customer either sees, reads or hears will impact the whole circle.

  • For marketers that means having a full view of all interactions (both positive and negative) and adjusting messaging accordingly. Insist that CTAs are relevant and easy to act on. The adage, help, not hype fully applies here.
  • For marketing automation, that means enabling technology that delivers a different message to everyone, based on certain rules related to the latest achieved levels within the circle of 5ths.
  • For sales and service that means having a full view of all interactions (both positive and negative) throughout the customer journey and adjusting responses accordingly.

So if you're looking for a simple way of explaining how marketing, branding, and CX all support each other and/or visualizing the impact of a single positive interaction, see if this helps.

Steve Kellogg

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