The art of listening

They say that good listeners make friends, have solid marriages and even succeed as salespeople. The art of listening is a virtue that brands often miss when thinking about their social media presence.

A colleague of mine made a comment on why are most sales and marketing terms somehow war related? We map out our “target” audience, we “execute” our media plan that aims at “converting” leads into sales. Our “guerilla” tactics involve “commados”. It’s like orchestrating a full scale battle in which an “enemy” = “competitor” is defeated and the consumer is “conquered” through “blasting” the brand message out there.

When thinking about social media, many brands spend most of their time identifying opportunities to shout their own messages to consumers. This goes against what we want as human beings. We want to be heard, we want someone to listen and value our input. However, as bad listeners, bad brands don’t really seek for opportunities to listen, instead, they look for a chance to speak their own message as soon as they have a chance. Brands & people that are bad listeners, don’t really listen. They hear what people are saying, but subconsciously they are just waiting for an opportunity to shout out their own opinion on the matter and seeking for points in the conversation that would make their own case more successful.

man_vs_machine

Brands underestimate the underlying importance of listening. When looking at most monitoring tools, a great emphasis is placed on the “robotic”, math driven monitoring tools that measure the conversions and click throughs that are anchored in the traditional, linear funnel thinking. Machines can gather and interpret linear, yes/no data, but they don’t have emotions and creativity.

 The modern monitoring layer is much more of driven by a “cyborg”, data smart, yet creative monitoring layer. Today’s purchase funnels are not linear. Consumers cross reference data on the web, read reviews, consult their peers and search for additional promo codes that might work in online stores. This new funnel creates the demand for a completely different kind of sales and marketing organization. We need less media planners, less marketing strategists, less traditional marketing managers to play smart when evaluating print ads that the creative agency produced.

Today’s age calls for listeners. Listeners are great community managers, webmasters, customer care reps, social media optimizers. Their job is to listen to what is happening and react, connect, help, participate. This type of media is not expensive, but it’s not free either. It simply means that modern working media is about time. Listening takes time, but it converts much better than shouting.

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