If we multiply our listening we will improve the quality of our marketing.

A listening post is any source of input.  Great companies create multiple opportunities for customers to provide feedback.  Examples:

  • Telephone—does your company receive phone calls with open ears?  Can customers receive the information they need by calling your store?  New technology doesn’t replace the need to have a clear system for telephone calls
  • In-store Surveys—ideally, we should have a new set of questions EVERY WEEK.  Fewer questions per survey and more surveys.  We need customer input on everything.
  • Social Media Monitor–are we listening to comments made on social sites?  It’s instructive to eavesdrop on a blog comment thread as customers offer opinions on something my company is not doing right.  I love free research.

There are as many listening posts in your company as you have touch points with your customers.  Every touch point should provide customers with an opportunity to be heard.

In addition to customer listening posts, we need to maintain a  constant flow of information with other constituents such as:

  • Employees—are we listening to the people who do battle on the  front lines?  Employees often know market facts long before senior managers become informed.  It takes time to listen.
  • Vendors—our vendors are truly partners.  Most vendors are knee deep in market knowledge.  Most companies need to foster better relationships with vendors and do a better job of listening.
  • Community Organizations—Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions Clubs and Chambers are populated with members full of market knowledge.  It’s great to have lunch at a table of leaders and listen for nuggets of information about trends that will impact our company’s future.

Certainly, we need to be careful about who and what captures our ear.  But if we multiply our listening we can multiply our learning.

Effective marketing begins with a q-tip.

Photo by Rebecca Gunn

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