Time to listen up

19178111 We've all heard the quote from the Greek philosopher Epictetus, "we were born with two ears and one mouth, so we can listen twice as much as we speak."

I doubt Epictetus was a marketing consultant, but it is not a stretch to apply his wisdom to our efforts.  Marketers have a tendency to "talk" a lot.  After all, we have a lot to say.  We have features to point out.  Benefits to reference.  Special pricing to announce.  Nothing wrong with any of that.

But we also need to listen.

How do we listen to our marketplace?  Try some of these on for size:

  • Client satisfaction survey
  • Client needs assessments
  • Attend industry trade shows
  • Monitor blogs for mentions of your company and your competitors
  • Read trade publications
  • The old-fashioned suggestion box
  • Google yourself/company

Along with those effective methods, there are also more direct and immediate ways to actively listen.  After you've completed a project or delivered your product, why not just pick up the phone and call? Ask for their impressions.  Find out if you surprised them in any way (good or bad) and what they expected the experience or product usage to be like. 

Imagine how you would feel if you received that kind of call.  Appreciated?  Special? Is that the kind of call you're likely to talk about?  You bet.

A word of caution.  Do not try to sell anything during this call.  This is about listening, remember? 

If you commit to listening more, you will glean insights that change the way you do business and you'll see a spike in sales as a result.  Guaranteed.

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5 comments on “Time to listen up

  1. Chris O. says:

    Listening is big and as I always say,”silence attracts conversation like a magnet.”

    There’s too big of a disconnect between online services and genuine customer support. This is why either Ben or I, will personally call 8/10 new sign ups to Referral Key.

    I can really appreciate your philosophy and I think that at some point, online businesses are going to need to be as attentive as their brick and mortar counterparts.

    It’s a bit unrealistic, but imagine if you had a favorite representative at Facebook who’d help you out with any concerns or needs?

    A boy can dream can’t he?

    Chris O.
    Referral Key
    “Your Trusted Referral Network”

  2. Joe Grant says:

    You KNEW I’d have to comment on this topic, Drew. In all my years in advertising & marketing and all the client satisfaction surveys we’ve done (I promise not to turn this into a sales pitch) the #1 reason for clients changing agencies or vendors is failure to listen. It happens even in person, believe it or not – I’ve facilitated “marriage counseling” between sparing parties where one has clearly expressed unhappiness in some area – right to the other’s face – and it never even registered!

    It’s so obvious: you’ve got to listen actively to your customers’ feelings and perceptions about your service and products even if you believe they’re erroneous. Why? Because it makes no difference; their perception is reality. . . and ‘reality’ may evolve to their dumping you.

    And I agree that a check-up phone call after a project is a good tool, but remember many people are conflict-averse (that’s why we’ve had such success with the 3rd party surveys) and won’t always give the inquiring CEO or owner the straight poop. But when an outsider probes for soft spots and opportunities there’s no chance of being accused of just trying to sell something else.

    Finally, I believe an owner’s #1 job is keeping his/her clients happy. Do that and all else, including the $$$, will follow.

    Joe Grant
    Ad Agency Shrink
    gRantvertising http://jjgrant.wordpress.com/

  3. Gretchen Doores says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Listening is a vital part of marketing and those brands that refuse to connect with customers or follow through on marketing campaigns will miss the opportunity to develop loyal brand advocates. A company that takes this to another level is Communispace and you should definitely check out some of the work their doing to connect customers and companies. It’s listening via customer communities.

    Check it out at: http://www.communispace.com

  4. Chris,

    But imagine the buzz and the love Facebook would get if they did have that level of customer service.

    How you guys (and companies like Fresh Books) are handling their customer service culture is going to be a critical factor in your success, I believe.


  5. Joe,

    You’ll get no argument from me. And I think you make a valid point about the 3rd party doing some of the research.

    Even clients who are really frustrated are hesitant to say anything directly. Sometimes, we’re too nice for our own good!


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