• Eli Collins

How Closely Do You Listen to Your Customers?

As a marketer, you know the importance of engaging with your audience, but what does engagement mean to you? How do you assess the value of the engagement you receive? All too often, we put the value on Facebook likes and shares, when we should be focusing on what our customers are explicitly saying about our company or our brand on social media.

Your customers may not come to you directly to tell you what they want, but believe me, they are talking about it. Skilled marketers learn to listen to the chatter and give their customers what they want, even if they never come right out and ask for it.

Take Starburst for example. For years, the candy giant has produced packages of pink (strawberry), red (cherry), yellow (lemon), and orange candies. But not all Starburst candies are created equal, and the pink wrapper has been getting the lion’s share of fan love for years. There is even a meme on social media that jokes, “Don’t let anyone treat you like a yellow Starburst; you are a PINK Starburst.” Fans of the candy have consistently half-joked about having to pick through the orange and yellow candies to get to the pink ones. Starburst finally responded with news that they will be releasing an all pink package this April. Customers are thrilled by the news and are using hashtags like #mylifeiscomplete and #itsabouttime on Twitter. Needless to say, Starburst has found an excellent way not only to increase sales of their product but make customers feel like they are genuinely heard and valued.

Here are some other companies who took their customers’ feedback to heart:

Apple: Steve Jobs was adamant that customers would never want a big phone. He believed that phones with large screens were too difficult to hold and would pose problems for users. But after his death, Apple released the iPhone 6 with the biggest screen of any iPhone model before it. Company founders saw people flocking to the Galaxy S and realized that their visionary leader of so many years had been wrong about this point. Instead of sticking to Jobs’ original vision, they followed the market and remained relevant.

Cheerios: No one can say no to Honey Nut Cheerios….except people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities. That’s what Cheerios realized when they started listening to their customers on social media. The cereal company decided to expand its offerings to include gluten-free choices. Unfortunately, customers got ill because Cheerios failed to create a new gluten-free facility for their cereal. There are two lessons to learn here. First, no company is ever too big to innovate. Cheerios has been around for almost 100 years. They could have easily ignored the need for a gluten-free option (at least for a while). Instead, they chose to lead the charge. Second, when making a significant change to your product, make sure to think it all the way through. Cheerios made a mistake by jumping the gun on the gluten trend, and it could have cost them.

The Red Cross: In 2012, The Red Cross rolled out its Digital Operations Center, a social media command central of sorts. The operations center allows employees to monitor social media in real time with heat maps and conversation tracking. The tools in their control center enable employees to determine the areas that need the most relief. They are also able to quickly match people on the ground in disaster areas that need assistance. Finally, the command center allows The Red Cross to analyze data and trends to more closely anticipate people’s needs in future disaster sites. In this case, people don’t even realize they are being heard, but the Red Cross’ ability to listen to social media conversations helps save more lives today than it could in the past.

What Should I Listen For?

When you put your ear to social media or host local events to communicate directly with your customers, here are the things you should listen for:

What they love about your product What they hate about your product What would make your product/brand better How your customers want to be treated Ideas for loyalty programs What they think of your competition Why they chose you over the competition Whether or not they ever think of switching brands Whether or not they are price elastic Whether or not they like your marketing What new trends they like in your industry How they would personify your brand

When it comes to your customers, the most important thing you can do is listen. It’s easy to get caught up in one-way communication through marketing and advertising. But when you listen to your customers, you’ll learn how to innovate and move your company forward. The best way to learn from your customers is to give them the opportunity to reach out to you and share their ideas.

If you’d like to host an event with brand ambassadors to represent your product, engage with your audience, and learn new and innovative ways to improve your company, then call Modern Promos today. We’ll staff your events with trained professionals who can act as the face of your brand.

#experientialmarketing #consumerengagement #brand #brandawareness #guerrillamarketing #sociallistening #branding

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