April 20, 2008 Phil

The Art of Listening

Did you ever think about how different advertising would be if a television commercial could see the viewer? I know, first thought is it sounds a little creepy, but imagine how much more effective it would be if you knew what everyone wanted to know. Car manufacturers could ask car buyers about their favorite colors or more importantly when they are inclined to buy. Just eliminate all the guess work and get to the straight up answers. Marketing would be so much easier if we had the ability to listen first before we blurted out the message!

Social Media is the beginning of a new era of listeners. Web 2.0 tools and social community platforms are enabling marketers to listen and learn before they start to communicate. Each day the information footprint grows as more and more people use blogs and social networks to record their lives. Smart marketers realize this and are developing ways to capitalize on it.

Starbucks, a brand leader, recently launched www.mystarbucksidea.com a website designed to help them listen to their consumers. The site allows visitors to “share”, “vote”, “discuss” and “see” ideas targeted at improving the company’s products and services. Starbucks is building a community of followers that will over time, influence the direction of their brand. They’re engaging their loyal customers and listening to their ideas. Real powerful shit!

Recently General Motors, United State’s third largest advertiser, announced that they will be investing half of their 3 billion dollar ad spend on digital marketing initiatives. Most would look at this as desperate move for a company that trying to hang on in a highly competitive business that perceives “American Made” as a negative thing. But think about it for a minute, if your brand is suffering from a social perception issue what’s the best thing you could do? Hire a PR firm to spin it or invest 1.5 billion into connecting with your customer. GM is certainly one to watch over the next 5 years. It will no doubt become a great case study for digital marketers.

In my many years of sales probably the most important thing learned was the art of listening. If you listen you will learn. What you learn will inevitably influence how relationships evolve. Online Web 2.0 innovations have created a new stage for listening with a huge audience who are looking to interact with brands. Marketers need to embrace this and start to live in the space. It will inevitably add value for their clients.

Read more on listening: Are you Marketing or Listening

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