Listening Marketing: Hearing Before We See

listening as lead generationHearing before we see … pretty much impossible when it comes to light, as light travels faster than sound however, what about times when we do hear before we see or react to sound faster than we do to a visual? Sprinters hear commands – ready, set, go (go being the start gun). Their heads are down and they hear the sound and move and not watch the trigger being pulled or the person next to them moving.  Infants cannot see more than a few inches in their first days or weeks of life but yet their heads turn as they hear voices.  In marketing we put out messages along various channels where in print the message is received via sight, radio via hearing and television via hearing and also sight but we pay attention when we  “hear” what others are paying attention to.  Turn the volume off the television and see how much you pay attention to the visual.  With children we can be in the dead of sleep but hear a cry or a mom/dad and suddenly we are out of the deep sleep and are immediately reacting.  In a social situation we can hear our name or our business being mentioned from across the room while engaged in another conversation through cocktail party effect and are compelled to search visually and make every attempt to be inconspicuous in our efforts to peruse the room to acknowledge who was talking about us. And this means … what?

Listening Marketing

Listening, a core element of marketing is a two way street. In order to interact with your target market you have to reach them, have them react and do what you ask of them.  This involves both  hearing and seeing your message.  Seeing in this case may seem like it comes first as if they do not see you how can they ever hear you?  This does seem true especially  in print, but will they pay any attention to y0u if they have never heard of you? Some, yes especially if your ad is catching their eye and is something of interest to them.  If not, overlooked.  As a company, listening to your consumers is practiced far and wide but what is being said about you and your industry is where many fall short.  Time and resources play a role here as there is only so much time in a day and as a small business owner, resources are not always very plentiful. What if I told you that listening can help with lead generation?  Does that change how you listen and serve as a means of finding new resources?

Listening Channels

In todays marketplace there are listening channels to monitor and engage.  This we know and how we listen to our customers and even potential customers has changed.  Social media marketing provides the tools to engage.  Twitter, Facebook, OpenForum, Third Tribe, LinkedIn Q&A, etc are the platforms that are the most well known where you can solve problems, talk with your customers, answer any questions they may have and target some new customers. Engaging is more than thanking a customer for their purchase, solving problems as customer service and even having your loyalists help to promote your new product/service.  Engaging is being there when no-one else is, the first to the start gate and the last at the finish line.  Talking with people about what is real and important to THEM, helping people when they are in need as we know when there is a problem we need solutions and answers fast. This is the differentiator that we talk about in marketing.  We all say that we have a good handle on this but do we? I know that I do not always.

Listening for Lead Generation

Listening and monitoring is the basis for any measurable social media strategy. Understanding how your company/brand is being perceived and accepted, monitoring industry news and events, and, of course, keeping a close eye on your competitors, is a constant in social media. As a company, what are you listening for?

  • Company Name
  • Your Name and Employee Names (if they are associated with the brand)
  • Competitors
  • Event Names, Webinars, Seminars, Conferences
  • CEO, President, Founder, etc of competitor
  • Your Tagline; Competitor Tagline
  • Your website and blog URL; Same for Competitor
  • Your Core Keyword  Phrases
  • Industry Terms/Longtail Keywords

This is a long list and there are more things to search for but this is a good place to start. This list will change as some will be deleted while new listening terms will be added.  Once you have been listening and monitoring and been engaging in the conversation, Radian6 provides two pdfs about  monitoring your brand in social media with: Top Ten Reasons to Listen and Another 10 Reasons to Listen.

Once you have had a chance to set up your listening channels, be sure to track the information for further analysis on a spreadsheet or something of the like.  Identifying what terms are viable for continued listening as well as avenues for lead generation do not to be overlooked.  Keep in mind that industry terms are not always the same that consumers/target market use so digging deeper in listening and what you are listening for is key.

Listening for lead generation is telling a story a smaller group and not the masses. It is about the person receiving the message feeling as if you are talking directly to them and only them.  Think of it this way, you are listening to conversations and capturing that information and responding to it.  It is individuals talking, needing help or putting out their thoughts, ideas waiting to be responded to.  As a company listening, being there first is powerful.  Being responsive and getting a conversation started is where the lead generation starts.  People buy from people and people they trust.  How many times when you are looking for a service do you ask people you know first?  We put out tweets asking for referrals, be that referral.  Know what your customers want and expect but for potential customers learn what they want and talk to them directly. Connect with them by going the extra mile to reach them.

What to Avoid
Generic terms as your will inundated with results.  If you happen to have generic terms in your name or if it is a part of your business or industry, use Boolean operators like “and” or “not.”

Listening is a lot of trial and error as we do not know if something is worth searching until we try it. Not every search will give you the results you wanted, hope or lead to a new customer.  It takes time and finding new ways to market thought the listening channels available takes time and work.

How do you listen?  Have you used listening marketing as a form of lead generation?

photo credit: AndreaUPI