Wed, November 07 2007
Filed under: Marketing essentials •
I taught a class at Georgetown yesterday afternoon for a group of students of the marketing guru Alan Andreasen (no relation, except in terms of our love of marketing). I spoke about nonprofit marketing, Network for Good’s business model and social media. And I found myself saying the same thing I always say, over and over: focus on the audience, listen to the audience, then engage the audience in conversation. Our work is not to drop pamphlets or preach or pontificate. Our job is to connect.
While I was visiting, Alan gave me his new book and an old article, from August 1989. It’s called “Communicating by Listening” and it is timely as ever. Listening before speaking has been the key to success long before the advent of consumer control or social media.
He says good marketers listen to what an audience wants, because you can’t make customers do what you want - you can only get them to do what they think is in their best interests. Good PR people get that too, he notes - they listen to reporters and understand their needs and wants before pitching them a story, because the story has to suit the reporter and their interests.
As a former reporter, amen to that.
How can you tell when you’ve drifted too far from listening? He gives you five red flags. I like them. Hang them up on a wall and try not to make these mistakes - number one especially. We all tend to do that because we love our cause. REMEMBER:
1. You’re in trouble if you see your product (or your cause) as inherently desireable. It’s not.
2. You’re in trouble if you see lack of success as the target audience’s fault. It’s your fault.
3. You are in very dangerous territory if you give customer research very low priority. You’ll fail if you don’t know your audience. Think you can’t afford to listen? I have two answers for that. First, you can’t afford not to. Second, read this.
4. You are in trouble if you think marketing is the same thing as communications. If you do, you’ll think that information alone will prompt action. It won’t.
5. You should never treat all customers alike. One strategy for everyone is not enough.
Thanks Alan for reminding us to listen and showing us how. We can’t succeed without it.