In a recent study we read, the role of marketing is changing to become the chief advocate for customers. In fact, the #1 priority of B2B marketers in 2016 will be “understanding buyers,” according to a recent survey from the IT Sales and Marketing Association. In today’s world of empowered buyers, the marketers who are getting it done are those who understand their buyers best. Customer-centricity is a competitive advantage!

We tapped into the growing Cintell community for perspective from the front lines of customer-centric marketing. Here’s one of their stories: 


Kelvin Gee, Customer-Centric Marketer

Kelvin is the Senior Director of Modern Marketing Business Transformation at Oracle.

He is a Modern Marketing professional with 16 years of experience in demand generation, marketing automation, buyer persona development, online marketing, and social media in the B2B high tech sector. In the past two years, he has focused on establishing Oracle’s global customer lifecycle strategy and training and transforming Oracle’s marketers to adopt marketing automation and modern marketing best practices.

When it comes to B2B marketing, his hidden talent is graphic and website design, which “has saved his bacon on numerous occasions.”

His Take on Customer-Centricity:

  • To me, the phrase “customer-centric” means: Taking an outside-in approach to everything an organization does, including marketing, sales, service, support and product development.
  • Buyer personas in my company are: Being adopted.
  • The role of buyer personas to me is: To inform marketing and sales strategy, campaign design, audience segmentation, and content development.
  • 3 tricks and tips I’ve learned from creating personas:
    1. Talk to customers as the primary source for persona development; followed by proxies as the next best thing.
    2. There is A LOT of great content online (e.g., Wikipedia, LinkedIn) for building personas and filling in the white spaces.
    3. Use data to help define your personas by identifying who is responding to your campaigns, being associated to your leads and opportunities, and who is being associated to Close/Won deals.

His Philosophy: 

  • If companies are struggling to put buyers first, I recommend: Identifying an executive sponsor (ideally your marketing leader) to set the tone.
  • Companies or marketers who are customer-centric: Are smarter, more sophisticated and achieve better results.
  • To help sales understand our buyers, we: Built a consolidated internal website where our personas reside and where Sales can access.

The Good Stuff: 

  • To understand our buyers, we: Spoke to customers but we also leveraged existing persona resources (e.g., Forrester, SiriusDecisions) and online sites.
  • My favorite way of conducting interviews with buyers is: Interviewing them at the same time we video record them for customer case studies.
  • We share personas, or information about our buyers, with the rest of our company by: Building a consolidated internal website for everyone to access.
  • Here’s a story about a time we put customer-centric marketing in practice: We created persona-centric email invitations for the same event, which increased engagement by 3-4X.

The Other Stuff: 

  • I think it’s hard for marketers / companies to create and use personas effectively because: It means more work for marketers. It’s more work to create the personas and incorporate that information into one’s campaigns. It’s also difficult to move away from the “bigger is better” approach to list targeting.
  • I think the biggest challenge for marketers when understanding buyers and/or building buyer personas is: Knowing where to start. Marketers are so busy and overwhelmed with their normal day job that they don’t know where to go or how to start.



Thank you to Kelvin for sharing his perspective.

Follow him on Twitter, and stay tuned for more in our series, Habits of Customer-Centric Marketers.