Contrary to the Alec Baldwin, TV/movie stereotype of sales people, the number one skill of successful sales people is listening. Only by listening can you find out what the prospect wants (in addition to their needs), shape a solution and overcome their objections. We’ve all experienced clueless sales people who just launch into their pitch and know how offensive and ineffective that is.
So what does this have to do with online marketing?
Online marketing, in virtually all of its forms, is the perfect way to listen to, and learn from, your market and customers.
Of course, social media marketing involves listening, because people are going to comment on and Like (or dislike) your posts. Central to social media marketing is responding to those comments and carrying on a conversation (“conversation” itself is a term that you did not hear used in marketing 10 years ago). Wise organizations can shape their future messages based on that feedback, and even carry those insights into their offline communications. And using social media monitoring tools, you can research the social media universe to see what people are saying about you outside of your social media channels on other blogs, etc., and see what people are saying about your industry and competitors, too.
All other online channels provide real-time opportunities to listen to your market, too.
- Launch a PPC campaign and in a very short time you’ll find out what keywords people are searching for your products and services with, which ad messages compel them to click and what offers get them to take an action.
- Online advertising, email marketing, marketing automation – they all provide more opportunities to get rapid feedback that you can use to shape your messages and programs.
- SEO may take a bit longer to develop, but the lead generation results can be even more valuable, so be sure to apply the learnings from listening in the other online channels when creating your SEO program
In his book, Direct from Dell, Michael Dell talked about how the Internet is the perfect pricing machine: Dell can put a new computer on its website for sale at several different price points, and within just a few hours they can see which price will generate the most profit for them.
The usual industry term for all of this is “optimization”. But you can think of it as just good old listening and responding.