Marketing is NOT science; it’s an art, and art is in the eyes of the beholder. The most significant gap in marketing skills is understanding what data tells them and what it doesn’t. Too many marketers rely on research without really questioning what the study means.
Listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages in the communication process. Listening is key to all effective communication. Without the ability to listen effectively, messages are easily misunderstood. As a result, communication breaks down and the sender of the message can easily become frustrated or irritated. More importantly, the ability to hear but not listen can doom the best marketing plans.
I spent many hours in market research listening to consumers talk about everything from relationships to coffee. I’m always surprised how some marketing people jump to conclusions based on comments from people in qualitative research. I’ve also seen a lot of marketing plans tank because marketers used the data from the study without asking more questions.
In addition to market research, social media is an excellent tool for listening to your audience. With so much happening on every social media platform, companies must stay connected to understand better and meet their target audience’s needs. Companies who don’t practice social media monitoring could lose the opportunity to better connect with their audience in a timely and relevant manner — missing a critical trending conversation on Twitter, lagging on a new trend on TikTok, or overlooking a story of a negative customer experience on Facebook. As such, brands must stay up to date with the various trends and conversations on platforms at all times.
Social media listening can show marketers and researchers what topics drive high engagement in their target audience, average brand sentiment or changes over time, trending social media conversations, and more. For example, social media listening can help identify the right opportunities for your brand to engage with stakeholders, customers, or potential customers. Never again will you miss the right moment to jump on a Twitter or TikTok trend! Using any trending social media conversation to indicate what content to prioritize can ensure your brand gets maximum views and traction from your target audience.
Remember, though, listening is also an art. You will make mistakes. That’s why it’s better to ensure your marketing can respond to changes in the market in days, not months. Consumers, right now, are all about experiences, not prestige. They’re willing to spend more money on vacations and family than on brands that have raised prices. Some brand marketers believe their brands ARE the experience. That is a huge gamble. Apple has a brand experience. Mcdonalds has a brand experience, but does tuna fish?
Finally, beware of “free” research available online. 99.9% of it is too generic and used as a self-serving sales aid.
Ask the right questions. Understand what’s being said and what’s missing.