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Friday, September 18, 2009

Simple Marketing Starts With Listening

Kahuna Luna as New RCA White Puppy Dog, Ear Cocked Listening to "His Master's Voice", Vintage Phonograph, Music Mascot originally uploaded by BL1961.

Simple, practical, effective marketing starts with Listening. Don't you think?

Listening comes up all the time - especially if you're listening for it. And, particularly in conversations relating to marketing with social media even though it's relevant to all marketing.

It's such a basic and critical activity, fundamental to building meaningful relationships, and yet think how difficult many brands, marketers and companies find it.

Perhaps listening took place at the onset of a project - maybe in the form of research or a focus group. But, once the data and insights obtained, we shut the exercise down and hear no more. And, then we get into trouble. No?

Listening came up during a Powered webinar titled "From Zero to Community: Practical Advice to Grow and Nurture an Online Community" with Rachel Happe from The Community Roundtable and Bert DuMars [who blogs at Exploring The Social Media Ecosystem] from Newell Rubbermaid.

From Rachel we learned about the Community Maturity Model and community management best practices. Bert discussed Sharpie - Uncap Your Creativity, Graco Baby - From The Heart and Rubbermaid - Adventures in Organization communities and social networking efforts. [Note: I've admired the Graco Baby program since hearing Lindsay Lebresco - formerly with Graco - discuss Graco Baby at 2008 BlogHer Business in NYC so it was wonderful to hear about it again.]

In listening [!] to Rachel and Bert, I was struck with how critical Listening is to building and nurturing a sustainable community. It conveys respect. It's a source of amazing ongoing insights, too. Intense, active listening never stops. It's also strategic and it goes beyond a specific product to understanding what the product enables.

Take Sharpie Uncapped which celebrates the creativity that Sharpies facilitate. By observing and absorbing [i.e., listening] what Sharpie users do with Sharpie products, the company realized that it could offer value by showcasing what fans do, and create a forum for that greater creative community.

Not too dissimilar from what Mike DiLorenzo from NHL.com shared during the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing World Conference. He mentioned that 50% of NHL fans are 'displaced' [i.e., live in markets away from that of their favorite team]. Listening has allowed him to uncover ways of nurturing fans' enthusiasm regardless of how individual teams performed. [Read Shannon Paul's Very Official Blog Interview with Mike DiLorenzo.]

Listening also represents a critical theme in Social Media's Collective Wisdom: Simplifying Marketing With Social Media, my e-book based on the first 26 interviews in my social media series about Bridging New & Old. It's a requirement for participation in social media marketing. We can no longer assume that we know what the answers are to customers’ questions, or that our initial research remains eternally relevant. Rather, we must become keen observers, listeners and facilitators with customers always in mind and do so on an ongoing basis.

More specifically from the e-book:

Listen, listen, listen. If you are listening, you'll be ahead of the curve. You may even be part of "the next big thing" before it becomes big. [LoriMagno]

Listen. Most companies are pretty bad at this anyway, but they have to start being very good at it. It will make them much better at what they do. [RichNadworny]

Listen. [DougMeacham]

Listen actively:
After you start paying attention to social media, start monitoring online conversations to see if your company/brand is being discussed. Use tools like Google Blog Search and Twitter Search to see what the chatter is. [MackCollier]

Listen. See what bloggers and Twitter and other social media users are saying about you or your products or others in your space. To start, use blogsearch.google.com and search.twitter.com to monitor the conversation. If you want more, Andy Beals suggests eight free monitoring tools here. [AnnHandley]

First - Listen - what are people saying about your brand? If they are saying something negative about you, engage with them and try to turn this 'threat' into an opportunity! There are plenty of free tools out there to monitor conversations such as Google Alerts, Twitter Search or Tweetbeep to name a few. [LollyBorel]

Set up Google Alerts to start listening to what the market-place is saying about you. Read Chris Brogan’s “Grow Bigger Ears” post for other ways to effectively listen. The results may further arm you as you convince decision-makers that people are already talking about you, and it is better to be part of the conversation. [PegMulligan]

My last suggestion is that no matter what they’re doing, they need to listen. I’m still surprised when I learn that companies don’t have a Google alert set up. It’s not surprising at all that people don’t search Twitter and the like for their brand names. [DavidPolinchock]

Listen strategically:

Understand the limitations and the benefits of the tools, or tactics, before you consider implementing. Listen and watch the rhythms of the social elements (blogs, vlogs, social networks, Twitter, etc.) you are considering before you create your social media strategy. [TobyBloomberg]

Place an activity moratorium on your staff as they enter the social media world. We use a 30 day No Comments, No Posts moratorium on our incoming people to give them a chance to listen and learn before they dive in and start posting. This gives them a chance to see how it’s done and avoid some of the common newbie mistakes. [ChrisKieff]

Listen some more. What do you hear. Are people talking about your brand? If not, then why? If they are, then what are they saying? Do they love you? Do they hate you? Are they helping you to increase your customer base or lose it? There is a lot of value in those conversations. Use it to your advantage. [DougMeacham]

What are your thoughts about listening? Do you consider it as critical a first step to simple marketing as I do?

Download Social Media's Collective Wisdom: Simplifying Marketing With Social Media. It's free and chock-full of wisdom.


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