- All too often, we start by focusing on ourselves – our campaign goals, our solutions, our services
- Perhaps before we put pen to paper, we should talk to our customers to find out what matters to them most and why
- Regardless of the approach, follow the golden rule of conversation – be an active listener
Before every party, my daughter worries about how she looks, what she’ll say and if she will fit in. I always remind her to focus less on being interesting and more on being interested. When you ask others about themselves, you learn what matters to them and can connect with them in a much stronger way.
This is one lesson we should reflect on before sitting down to create a new marketing program. All too often, we start by focusing on ourselves – our campaign goals, our solutions, our services. As a result, we end up producing programs that revolve around making us look interesting and attractive. The truth is, it can be hit or miss whether or not our customers agree. Perhaps before we put pen to paper, we should talk to our customers to find out what matters to them most and why.
This can be a tall order in EMEA. Not only are marketers hampered by a lack of direct contact with customers, but they also have to master a myriad of languages and cultures in order to gain access to customers. So it’s not surprising that many already overworked marketers put direct customer outreach into the “too hard” bucket.
There are, however, a range of options that innovative marketers can use to interact with customers, and just a little can go a long way to gain customer insights. The following are a few examples I have seen, ranging from the free to the expensive, the quick to the complex. All of these options can help marketers update their depth and/or breadth of knowledge.
As with any conversation, it’s always a good idea to have a focus for your questions. One quick tip: Map your questions to a stage of the buyer’s journey. Research tells us that buyers go through three macro phases before deciding to buy – education, solution and vendor selection. Pick a stage, and use it to guide the questions you ask. At your next customer conference, try out the following conversation openers during coffee break:
- Education. How are things going for you/your business? What things are getting in your way?
- Solution. What is the biggest issue you/your business faces today? How are you looking to solve this problem?
- Selection. What is your highest priority change initiative this year? Are you planning to use any outsourced tools or vendors as part of that initiative?
These ideas should help weave customer outreach into your marketing activities. Regardless of the approach, follow the golden rule of conversation – be an active listener. Remain present, ask open-ended questions and truly listen to the responses (don’t miss a crucial insight because you were trying to decide what to ask next). What you discover will be invaluable, enriching every aspect of your marketing efforts and ensuring your next campaign will be as interesting to your customers as it is to you.
What are your thoughts? Post a comment below!