The most beloved brands have one thing in common: they put customers first. If you want to succeed. It’s not about selling a great product or service, it’s about being obsessed with your customers.

“The ability to adopt a customer-centric business is the only way to compete,” said Chris Kneeland, CEO of Cult Collective and co-founder of The Gathering conference.

The reason why some brands continue to be relevant decade after decade is because they “fully commit to their customer cohorts.”

Chris Kneeland is the CEO of Cult Collective and co-founder of The Gathering conference.

So, if the goal of a business is to serve a customer, you have to ask yourself: how customer-centric is your company?

Personalization is one way to serve customers. He called it ‘the holy grail – the thing that marketers keep looking for but fail to find.’ But he argues a more effective, and realistic goal should be participation and belonging.

“If you want to know what it takes to build a cult brand, you need to ask what gives customers better access, make them feel like insiders, co-creators and co-mingle with each other?”

He points to companies like Porsche, which launched the Passport vehicle subscription service to its most devoted clients; or Fanatics, the online retailer of licensed sportswear, which partnered with American Express to create a jersey insurance program.

These customer-centric initiatives required marketers to boldly and behave differently. “They also required the kind of creative firepower that would get customers so lathered that they couldn’t help but talk about the brand.”

About The Gathering

Organizers of The Gathering consistently outdo themselves: bigger brands and personalities, more content and dual-track sessions, and ramped up music and entertainment value. But as it grows, the level of access to the hearts and minds of the biggest brand leaders remains unchanged, keeping The Gathering on the calendar of smart marketers across North America year after year.

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Katherine Scarrow is the general manager of Globe Content Studio, the content-marketing division of The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national media organization.

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