As a business marketer, I write a lot. A lot of articles and case studies … emails, press releases, brochures … ads, website copy. The problem with all that writing – marketing content creation – is that it can happen in a vacuum, without the most recent customer context or a reliable frame of reference. Marketing content should never be created without listening to customers, or in other words, “having a conversation.”
Nothing clarifies your own message better than a conversation with another person. Why? Because talking it over can break through the other person's listening prejudices. (Yes, prejudices are real, and they get in your way as you market your message.)
More importantly, you also can learn about your customers as well as hear those customers’ concerns and feedback – even what specific language they use.
A conversation with a customer is your chance for a learning experience about your audience. What can you discover from a conversation?
- Customers’ current needs
- Customers’ hidden needs
- Customers’ language
- Customers’ concerns
- Even what your next product or service offering should be
In addition to the many benefits of deeper understanding of your customers, not learning about customers brings consequences. Without listening to customers, you could actually hamper the growth of your business. You could even alienate potential customers by using language they do not use or lose business by not serving their needs out of ignorance. To put it simply, you can’t support what you don’t know is needed. Truly understanding your customers is the difference between having a successful business and a floundering business.
As an organization, you are “talking” every time you communicate: every email, every article, every brochure, every case study, every press release, every ad, all your website copy, etc. This is your part of the conversation. Make your part meaningful and memorable by making it relevant to your audience.1
Outside of taking your customers to lunch, there are several ways to engage in a conversation with your customers:
- Electronic survey or phone interview. (Pro-tip: The latter will garner more insightful information.)
- Social media review (aka, “listening.”)
- Trade show or event. (Bonus: There are three opportunities to reach different audiences: in advance of the event, during the event, and after the event.)
- Shadow your CS team/sales team and observe their interactions;
- Listen when your CS team tells you what they hear when dealing with customers. ( Pro-tip: Frequently Asked Questions is more than a page on your website; FAQ reveals hidden concerns or circumstances in which customers’ experience is not matching brand expectations. Find out what customers are asking your CS or project management team.)
- Ask your sales team which of the already created marketing pieces they use, and why;
- Ask your sales team what information they are repeatedly asked about;
- Ask your sales team what additional materials they need.
Being consistent with your listening creates a back-and-forth conversation between your prospective customers and your marketing efforts. Each time you communicate out, their feedback comes back to you in sales, inquiries, and interaction with your team.
Marketing is always communication, but communication works best as a two-way conversation. In conversation, you can come to an understanding of what matters. Plus, an actual conversation allows the other person a chance to be heard, and we all appreciate that. Have a conversation, you might learn something.
Alexandria Trusov is the Director of Marketing at Euthenia Manufacturing Group and a B2B marketing consultant to manufacturers and other B2B companies. Contact her at [email protected] or visit www.truinsightsconsulting.com.