The customer is king - which aspects of communication put the user in focus


Traditionally, corporate communication takes place according to the push principle. Here, companies present themselves according to the approach of “our trade shows, our flyers, our awards,” etc. However, the new, predominantly digital communication requires more than that. The corporate messages should be placed along the customer journey and focused entirely on the well-known motto “the customer is king”.

In the podcast “Beyond your business” by Tim Bosenick, our Vice President Digital Strategy Stefanie Soehnchen explains in a conversation how to successfully align communication with the user.

Click here to listen to the Beyond your business podcast, on the topic of “What German companies and Marvin need to know about digital communication”

Does this apply to B2B and B2C?

In B2C communication, user-centricity is crucial for strategy and implementation, but also increasingly for content marketing.

Thanks to Corona and the realization that the traditional way of corporate communication may no longer meet the demands of customers, the turnaround has also arrived in B2B communication. Here, it is bringing about changes that pursue one goal above all: to link communication directly to the business strategy.

Communication and marketing come from a single source

Digital communications is increasingly merging with marketing. This requires a paradigm shift in how we approach the work, who we hire and how we set up our teams.

In addition, we should also consider how goals are defined, what so-called SMART goals mean, who the relevant target groups are and how the corresponding massaging house is structured.

All of this then forms the basis – a basis that must be thought about and constructed very strategically.

Digital natives vs. millennials – who is causing the digital upheaval in traditional communications?

Many young talents don’t have the understanding of media that we always assume they do. Moreover, more conservative industries tend to attract young talents who are traditionally less likely to be TikTok creators.

Millennials are therefore more likely to be in senior communications positions. They have the task of initiating the upheaval. They should be able to precisely identify the existing business potential and make digitization an organic part of the business strategy. This is how the change process begins.

Where does the mindset shift come from?

In the B2B sector, change often comes from the top down. Here, you meet founders who are still very involved in corporate activities and see the potential for their business.

They recognize that digitization is the right way to go and gather information from their peer group or relevant magazines, for example.

In this context, the digital transformation is not only taking place in communications, but also in the automation of production and the overall strategy of the company.

However, the mindset shift can also take place bottom-up – through employees who are hired specifically for the communications function and either come from within the company or are recruited and have a considerable leap of faith due to their expertise.

This gives the opportunity to try and test new things. In the course of systematically developing an online presence, this advance can then be justified.

What is the best way to implement change?

In any case, internal communication is important: Change management must be addressed and the potential of the innovations must be demonstrated. This is the only way to sustainably establish digitization in the company.

Once all this has been implemented and established, there is usually no way back – if only because the “change” has probably already had a positive impact by then.

Weaving holistic thinking and thus digitization into the overall strategy is also crucial. Not only social media are relevant, but also blogs, newsletters and apps must be closely examined and, if necessary, adapted from a UX perspective.

At the same time, this means that communicators no longer have to do PR work exclusively – but rather build an entire ecosystem as a foundation for the future, which must be strategically underpinned.

Implementation – how do I develop the right understanding of communication?

It is obvious to train above all those employees who have a good understanding of communication. They offer the greatest potential for making meaningful use of social media for the company.

In the so-called “co-creation mode,” employees can then work together with digital experts – like those at FleishmanHillard – on their online presence and appearance.

No one knows the industry as well as the client, who is of course also the most important expert for their company. This knowledge complements the know-how of our digital experts, who in turn can always pull out useful tips from their “how-to digital” treasure chest. In this way, a common understanding is created – and bit by bit, a new, sustainable corporate culture is established.

Such work always has a cultural aspect as well. This, too, must be built directly into the strategy.

Companies can, of course, shape the implementation phase themselves – but many prefer accompanying support from external experts such as those from FleishmanHillard for good reason. After all, this is where professional change management comes into play once again. Sometimes it needs the individual inquiry of the reception of the change with each single employee: What moves you, which effects does the development have on you, what can be improved by it?

Know your addressees

When we work on strategies and change design, we have to think about people first and foremost.

The resource “people” is becoming increasingly scarce on the labor market. That is why it is particularly important to value existing resources and to pick up employees accordingly.

We should neither let our own “troops” go into a battle that they cannot win due to existing resistance, nor overtax the people in the company. The strategy must therefore be decidedly people-centric – and always emphasize the opportunities that change means for each individual.


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  • Stefanie Soehnchen

    Stefanie Soehnchen is VP Digital Strategy and leads the Digital Strategy & Agency Marketing team at FleishmanHillard Germany. She brings almost 10 years of digital marketing knowledge for B2B and B2C. She is a strong strategist through years of consulting...

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