Choose your own Adventure(s): Executing a Customer-led Marketing Strategy – BE GENTLE BULLDOZER (AKA PUSH & PRIORITIZE)

Choose your own Adventure(s): Customer-led Marketing

I first said, “Be a gentle bulldozer” six years ago at Bill Lee’s summit on customer engagement. Melissa Brown and I were presenting on the topic of securing internal champions–getting them excited about customer advocacy so they would advocate on our behalf.

I use the (gentle) bulldozer analogy regularly, but it really matters right now in my career – pushing forward to drive an entirely customer-led marketing strategy – nudging people, practices, and processes in new directions, sometimes with resistance.

Pushing back is just as important as pushing forward, as long as it is done thoughtfully and with purpose.


  1. Blame the Customers! – Seems like a no-brainer, but if you’re truly driving a customer-led strategy, you better talk to some customers before implementing it. Diversify how you gather information from customers – use interviews, surveys, and focus groups to understand what they truly want from your products, brand, and engagement opportunities. Only then are you able to execute something meaningful for the people that matter. Plus, when someone comes to you with a random request that doesn’t align – blame the customer!
  2. Raise your Hand & Voice – Nothing will get done if you don’t raise your hand and your voice to volunteer or inspire others to act. Customer marketing is as much change management as it is actual change (thank you, Sarah Burke for reminding me of that today); you must make the initial investment with internal partners through education and support (make them a hero) to yield a return.
  3. Lead by Example – Seems simple enough because we hear it all the time. However, we cannot assume people understand what is meant by customer-led marketing or customer-led growth. Why? 1) These concepts, while not new, are still young and being newly implemented; 2) Definitions are not consistent across all organizations; 3) See 1 and 2 and it should be obvious that you’re not just executing, you’re educating. Take the time to do it; and do it well.
  4. Get Glued to Goals – Much like blaming your customers is a useful tactic, you also need to identify goals, align goals, and set goals. Why? Because you want to be successful, of course. Also, because no two marketing strategies are the same – we’re like snowflakes. It also means what works for one team may not work for another; when you’re pulled in several directions, review those goals and if what you’re being asked to do doesn’t support one of them, see #5.
  5. No isn’t a Four-Letter Word – I’m just going to throw this out; I know there’s data to back me up. Women have a harder time saying no than men. Empaths never want to disappoint anyone. Only children are always trying to keep the peace. And marketers, often extroverts, have a difficult time shutting down the social contract. So basically, I’m screwed. I always want to say “Yes!” But if you’re going to be successful, you have to say it. Come on, you can do it. Say it with me now. No.

Want to keep following the journey? Follow me on LinkedIn for all kinds of information, resources, and observations around customer-led marketing (and the occasional pet, kid, or vacation photo):

Note: Today’s adventure photo is another cake; my daughter went through a two-year “large tractors and machinery” phase, which I thought was pretty badas$ for a three year-old girl; the symbolism is obvious.