In the social media space, we hear a lot about the importance of listening. If you’re a company on social media, the job is not just to fire off posts, but also to pull up a chair and pay attention to what people are saying. Listening has always been important in experiential marketing and in your relationship with customers. Social media just reinforces that.
Recently we talked about Dr. Scott Downey’s observation that trust is inversely proportionate to self-interest. We mentioned the importance of listening more than you talk when you want to build that trust with the customer.
This is important not just in the sales arena, but in the marketing space as well. After all, marketing is typically the first form of communication that gets to the prospect, before a sales visit. How is your marketing plan including experience sharing and actively listening to your customer?
Let me expand on what that might look like.
- New product: You have a new product on the market. A few cattle producers have tried it and are experiencing value with the product use and results that are currently not listed in the product brochure. While it’s most important that the early adopters are happy, it’s also key that you’re capturing the additional value that resonates with your target audience. How are you set up to receive that kind of feedback and take action?
- Challenging growing conditions: You have a product that’s been on the market a few years now – and has performed well, but this growing season is different in an important geography, and the product is failing under those conditions. How did you plan to solicit grower feedback and start corrective action while preventing that bad news from leaking over to other important geographies where the weather is different and you likely won’t see this problem?
- Complexity: You brought what seemed like a genius product to the market and it’s just languishing. There’s a need for what the product does, and you recognize the use is complex but the return is outstanding for those customers who have adopted it. The team you have in the field that’s supposed to be helping with the learning curve is stretched too thin. How are you listening to those who have made the complex easy and adopted to the fullest? Does your marketing plan include sharing those experiences?
These are all situations that could be easily turned around – if you were letting the customer have a vote along the way. Here’s Dr. Scott Downey’s take on this kind of scenario:
“A lot of times what happens is when a customer has a complaint, they feel it’s a betrayal, so because of that, they’re not interested in helping a supplier figure out how to solve it. They see it as very personal, and so because of that, they’re often not as willing to talk to a supplier or at least a supplier organization. If they’ve got somebody else in an organization that they trust, they might share with them. I think the idea of sharing a negative experience or sharing about a betrayal often comes better through an intermediary, through a third party. Beck Ag helps their clients listen. So I think the opportunity is to listen to all kinds of things – some of those being negative experiences – hopefully positive experiences too. And I think that’s part of what Beck Ag is built on is helping farmers share some of those positive experiences as well and we hope that outweighs the negative of course.”
So how are you making it easy for your customers and prospects to vote, to complain, to compliment? How are you involving them in the evolution of the product? Are those trusted, experiential conversations a deliberate part of your marketing plan? How are you collecting the customer’s vote?