Mostly what they want are good products and services from companies that give good reasons to trust them and buy from them. And, after they buy the goods or sign the contract, they want to be treated well when updates are required or when things go wrong.
And when things go very wrong, they want to deal with human beings who can fix the problem.
They also don’t want anything that puts a burden on them, even if it’s a “loyalty” program with discounts or rewards. There are too many of those already, and each of them a cognitive overload that’s also operational overhead for the seller.
Earn loyalty from what you do best. Your customers will take care of the rest. All have mouths, and word will spread.
Yes, marketing matters, but not as much as what Peter Drucker said long ago: the purpose of a business is to make and keep a customer.
If you do that well, you won’t need advertising, SEM, SEO, CRM or other 3-letter acronyms to make it happen. Those are good-to-haves, but they are just gravy on the meat and potatoes of products, services and treatment of customers.