“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” ~ Peter F. Drucker. Think about that for a second. How well do you really know and understand your customers?
Social media has many uses to marketers, but perhaps none is more important than its ability to listen to what your customers are saying about you, your brand and competitors. However, that’s only part of the picture. To really understand your customers, you need a stethoscope to your audience. It’s more than research, it’s realigning the processes within your company around both listening to customers and reacting to their needs.
Brands will spend a lot of money on market research, but where they tend to fall down is translating customer needs to actionable marketing strategies. What good is research is it takes you 6 months to implement customer needs?
By far the biggest gap I find with clients is the inability to translate research findings into actionable brand strategies. Why? Because, for one, they are afraid of failure and afraid to spend dollars because marketing people are being held more accountable for budgets. Then there is the analysis, paralysis aspect. I once had a client who debated the feasibility of making their website mobile ready even though more and more people are using mobile devices. They even wanted to conduct market research with customers on whether to develop a mobile site.
It’s not enough to listen to your customers, you need to have the ability to understand what customers need and want and how to make your brand responsive to their needs in real time. That by far is the biggest shortcoming of most marketing executives.