The marketing skill we forget: listening
There’s a very old saying that goes, “We were born with one mouth and two ears.” In other words, we should listen more than we talk. Yet so often people think that marketing your personal brand, your team or your business is all about constantly going out to your market and broadcasting your talents, shouting about how great you are from the rooftops. Contrary to what people think, though, branding and marketing is far from that. It’s about increasing your visibility in a way that you are perceived as value-adding, and in order to be perceived as adding value, you need to be incredibly ‘close’ to your market and really understand the key problems your clients are facing.
Only once you’ve taken the time to stop and listen to the people in your target market are you able to understand their challenges and develop effective solutions to their problems. In order to do this effectively, you not only need to be asking the right questions, but also need to listen really carefully not only to what your market is saying, but to what they are not saying.
4 tips for listening wisely:
- Listen first when you network: Instead of jumping in and talking about yourself and your business, your focus should be on how you can add value to others’ lives. You need to genuinely believe that “what goes around comes around”. Effective networkers try to understand people’s “pain points” – the core issues bothering them – and look for ways to help solve their problems.
- Listen for cues that signal future needs: When in conversation with clients or prospective clients, listen out for niggles that are bothering them, which you can tell will become bigger problems. You also need to listen for gaps in the products and services your clients are purchasing and think about how you can be position what you are offering in a way that closes those gaps.
- Get back to basics: If you haven’t started out well in terms of listening before you market yourself or your business, start now. Ask your customers: would you recommend me? If the answer is no, go back to basics to understand what you need to fix to make them enthusiastic ambassadors for your brand.
- Ask for feedback: Get periodic feedback from your colleagues and clients about where you’re doing well and where you could improve. Listen to what they say, make improvements and ensure that your marketing efforts are focused on what you know about your clients – show them you’ve listened and you care about their problems and solving them.
Do you listen to your clients ?