What Are Your Customers Saying to You?

What are your customers sayingYour customers, your bread and butter. They make or break your business. If they buy and continue to buy you are successful, if not, you are out of business. While this is quite cut and dry and the reality of what most businesses when planning do not want to break it down to,  it is the reality of how a business operates. We need customers and customers need us. They need us to create the desire of need and we need to have them accept the need and desire that we are telling them that they need. A bit confusing but yet consumers/customers are not only ready and waiting for the message they are giving feedback that is more than their purchasing power.

Brand and Consumer Need and Want

As a brand, you create a buyer persona of whom you feel will be your target market and set out to talk to them. We strategize and analyze the numbers based upon our goals and objectives which is a big component of marketing as creating a marketing plan that talks to our target to create that emotional response of need and desire has been a staple of how we advertise since door to door salesmen, newspapers, radio, tv, cable tv, the internet and social media marketing. In the past we we not able to listen to our customers as we do today. Sure, we heard them through sales and repeat sales but is that an exact evaluation of how they felt about our brand? In some industries, yes but in others we cannot access the repeat sales to how they felt about the brand. Think of the consumer who buys a new air conditioning unit or a new water heater or the business who upgrades to a new software. We know that they are not in the market to get anew but yet they can be our most powerful when it comes to sales.

What Consumers and Customers Say

Consumers and customers say a lot. They always have. WOM is not new just as the conversation is not new. Social media did not create the conversation in the same way Al Gore did not create the internet (sorry Al, I had to go there). The conversation has always been there as we as people have needed the interaction with others that conversation affords. We cannot create and build relationships with others unless we have communication. Communication is the core of how we relate with people. We cannot relate without communicating in some way. As our conversations are not always verbal, we use our body language to express what we are thinking and how we feel. As consumers, we tell a story of what we like every day. The car we drive, the soap and the shampoo we bathe with, the clothes and shoes we wear. We tell a story every day that is attributed the brand … but is it?

How Consumers/Customers Talk to a Brand

We talk to a brand every day. We wear their clothes, use their products, drive their cars so that says a lot but is that out of necessity or out of the undying love for the brand? If the brand is “good to us” as far as meeting or surpassing our expectations we buy but is that enough for the brand? We may buy a brand because it hits our price point or we are influenced by our friends. We talk about a brand every day in how we represent ourselves through our appearance but yet we want our brand to notice us on the platforms we and the brand have a strong presence. As a brand, we go to where our customers are and they interact and hopefully take that further and dialogue is created but as a consumer/customer we also “wear” the brand by liking and linking. In social media, we talk to the brand in a way that is almost is immeasurable as if you are tracking likes vs those that comment your numbers are so far in the negative that buying power or even the influence is not a mathematics game. Your consumers/customers talk to you constantly but the bigger question is (possibly more than the sales numbers) is how do you react to their talking?

How A Brand Responds

A brand responds in a myriad of ways. They create new marketing plans based upon the consumer reaction. Many times that is based upon sales dollars and not upon the engagement of consumers. A new contest or a big sale that discounts you below the rest to drive sales when really consumer are wondering why you are so less than others; or the opposite of raising prices as Oh, we have hit the big time and we are worth it. A brand should respond the same way the consumer responds. The consumer needs to listen, understand and then make the decision to act.

Are you hearing your customers or waiting for them to wear or rave and then react?

photo credit: Siddy Lam

  • Customer are the blood line of your survival and this marketing is getting even more competitive everyday..so its important to make them understand you and what your brand stands for.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    • Yes but the real bigger picture is do you as a brand understand what they are perceiving you as and how they are interpreting your message?

  • The conversation between the brand and its customers has always been there. Social media conversations ease this process, and they should be considered just as a new medium, not as something new per se.
    Some brands deliberately choose not to listen to these new channels, both because they are too arrogant to think it matters, or sometimes too “secretive” about their business (I think about Apple in this case) to have a social media voice at all.
    Generally speaking, I find that the ability to listen to customers in social media doesn’t mean sure success for the brand, and the fact a brand doesn’t participate in it at all doesn’t mean sure failure.

    Why?

    I think it’s simply a matter of what’s behind a brand, rather than the media it participates in. For a brand with a successful mentality, social media can be a formidable new weapon in their marketing arsenal, but for a brand who always followed a different way of communicating (or not communicating) with their customers, social media is just another channel where people will talk about their products no matter what, and not necessarily in a bad way.

    • Gabriele

      Interesting POV here. I do agree that what is behind the brand matters as the consumer exposure to the brand is via the brand itself, friends, etc but once that message is received, the consumer builds their own feeling about the brand. That feeling, emotional connection and experience needs to meet or even build upon the brand message as if the brand is saying A but the consumers are interpreting it as Y there is a big disconnect and in many instances the voice of the consumer is heard louder.

      I am not sure I am following your thoughts on a brand that does not communicate with their customers would have another channel where people talked about them. If they are not communicating back wouldn’t the people slowly start to leave? But then again for big brands, new will come and be around and leave, and new ones will come. Is that what you meant?

      • Well I was thinking about the Apple example specifically. They have no official presence in social media that I know of, yet they are one of the most successful brands worldwide. They even stopped participating in conventions outside of their own keynotes (I am thinking about Macworld expo).
        Theoretically they should have big problems with customers, but they love their brand anyway.
        So my point is, sometimes communicating with your customers isn’t everything, nor even important. Sometimes (in rare cases, mind you) what you produce and sell goes far beyond any conversation, don’t you think?

        • Hmh. I guess I have not really seen any presence but their customers serve that role for them or even more so, the bloggers and the media.

          • Very true, yet they are going against any logic “rule” in social media, are they not?

  • It’s a brilliant article, but when did you get on a first-name basis with Al Gore?

    • Margie

      Oh we go way back to …. yeah we do not. I was just checking to see if he monitors his personal brand mentions.