Marketing Priorities for 2010: Part 2 of 3

In my last post, I identified the ongoing quest to add value for customers as one of three priorities on which marketers should focus in 2010. Today's post is Part 2 of 2010 marketing priorities, and it, too, takes us back to basics: listen to customers.

I can see eyeballs rolling now. Of course marketers should be listening to customers, why should listening be held as a priority for the year? The answer is that tools available for listening are more numerous today. It is vital that marketers use them to not only know what is being said about them and their products, but more importantly, to respond to what they learn from listening to customers. When customers and bloggers talk about brands on Facebook, Twitter, or other channels, companies must be listening so that they can engage in conversations as warranted.

According to a study by Econsultancy and bigmouthmedia, nearly one-half of companies that monitor social media conversations about their brands respond to negative comments by attempting to directly engage the person posting the negative comment. Instead of attempting to quash comments, these companies embrace them as a means to have dialogue with customers and influentials. Another positive response to listening to comments in social media is using the feedback to make improvements to products and services- 33% of the companies surveyed indicated they monitor social media brand conversations for this purpose. These marketers are using social media as a form of marketing research and are reacting to what they glean from unsolicited comments about their products and services.

The practice of listening to customers is not new; how we can listen to customers is changing. Also, the expectation that marketers listen to customers is higher than ever given that there are many channels to interact with customers. Have you ever sent a company an e-mail only to receive a canned response (or worse yet, no response at all)? Your expectations of how the company should have listened and responded to you were not met. Interacting with customers and others in meaningful, ongoing conversations is possible on an unprecedented level. Make listening to customers one of your priorities in 2010.

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