Market Conversations – Listening to the Marketplace

Lackluster Listening


Photo: Ryan Glanzer

Major Marketing Malfunction #1

Listening or broadcasting? Are we singing our praises so loudly to our target audience that we can no longer hear the marketplace conversation? To be effective in our marketing, listening is as important as broadcasting. In reality, not listening or just poor, lackluster listening damages your advertising, dilutes your brand, and undermines your marketing campaigns.

Effective listening in the marketplace reveals strategic answers about your target market, their core issues and decision-making criteria. Without this, your marketing – may turn into a futile investment. It would be like planning a dinner party without knowing who’s coming to dinner. Can you imagine the embarrassment of making a steak au poivre for a distinguished vegan guest! Irrespective of how good a cook you are – not taking your prospective guests’ (audience) preferences into consideration can lead to disaster.

Three causes behind lackluster listening

1. Failing to Converse

Markets are conversations with human beings, not demographic sectors, conducted in a human voice is the opening three thesis of the The Cluetrain Manifesto. Mass marketing disrupted this ancient truth and made it harder to have genuine two-way conversations. However, the manifestation of social consumer-generated media has restored and accelerated the intensity, access and breadth of the market “conversation.” Consequently, listening as a marketing strategy has remerged as a priority.

Do you know what is being said about your brand, your offering, or your organization? Not asking, not listening, not engaging in the market conversation can place you at a competitive disadvantage. Conversely, active listening and authentic dialogue can breed strategic advantages in the marketplace.

2. Failure to Ask Powerful Questions

Questions have power. You want better answers and outcomes to your marketing? Ask better questions. One great question can yield a great answer that changes the very direction your marketing or your business. Here’s one to ask yourself: “What questions are you asking and from whom?

Ask open-ended ‘why’ questions to powerfully reveal underlying causes and behavior behind customer actions & decisions. Powerful questions generate new insights; garners fresh revelations and fosters deeper relationships.

3. It’s Easy to Hear – Hard to Listen

“Most of us touch, but we don’t feel. We look, but we don’t see. We sniff, but we don’t smell. We eat, but we don’t taste. We hear, but we don’t listen.”
~ Allan Rich – actor and screenwriter.

Marketers and business people must sharpen their hearing to the point we are really listening and understand the fine details of what is being communicated below the surface. To not just hear but to be empathetically present with active listening and leave our preconceived ideas, biases and prejudices behind.

Five Actionable Solutions

Brands that not only listen but also engage in the market conversation inevitably elevate their brand. On the other hand, brands that don’t listen or dialogue in the market conversation are without doubt doomed. And we have no excuse! In a Web connected world it’s easier than ever to listen, engage and take action!

  1. Surveys and Polls have never been easier to create, deploy and disseminate. Just remember to ask good questions – powerful questions!
  2. Google Alerts allow you track what’s being said about you, your brand or your organization through a list of relevant search phrases and keywords.
  3. Social Media Monitoring. Use applications such as SocialMention, Hootsuite and Tweetdeck to track market conversations around your brand.
  4. Crowdsourcing for product development. Crowdsource customer input, feedback and market research to direct product development and go-to-market strategies.
  5. Contact Us – Contact Them

Sounds obvious but it’s the old adage “easy to say – hard to do”

  1. Make it easy for your “tribe” to connect with you through a professional Facebook page, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Web contact forms.
  2. Call them! Personally reach out to your clientele and discover first hand their experience. Many will be delighted to hear from you will be enthused to know they have a voice. Acting on what they say will only amplify the impact and is certain to create an advocate for your organization – the ultimate irresistible marketing ingredient.

Generating profitable marketing and fostering enthusiastic customer satisfaction depends upon effective listening to understand current needs, to demonstrate to customers our empathy, and to anticipate their future needs. A listening-centered approach to marketing is a “simply irresistible” marketing strategy that enriches business development, guides product development and generates exceptional returns on your marketing investments.

Transform lackluster listening into engaged interactive market conversations and become “simply irresistible!” Share some experiences in how listening has improved your marketing below and it may be included in my forthcoming book.

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