People are talking. Is anyone listening?

2012

There's a powerful message for marketers embedded in the elections taking place this week. The voice of the customer is alive and well.

It's the time in our country when we are reminded that the voice of the public really matters. Our insights, opinions, the things we like, and the things that wear us out come to the surface of conversations and debates. Loyalists and advocates for candidates, causes, initiatives, and groups have raised their voices in family rooms, coffee shops, town hall meetings, and many other face-to-face venues. Social networks are abuzz with status updates, blog entries, and highly efficient tweets that are expressly intended to let our friends, family, and members of the voting public - that we've never even met - know what matters to us and who we're convinced are the best candidates to solve the issues that we consider important. The volume of our communication is at a level like never before. And what we say matters.

Of course, listening matters too.

The candidates and causes who have listened most will have the best opportunity to secure the public's confidence and votes. And therein lies the lesson. Marketers, and the companies they work for, must rediscover and apply the art and science of listening. Whether it's traditional market research, monitoring service contacts in the call center, or establishing social media listening posts, enterprise listening has emerged as a critical success factor for brands in every sector. 

Listening Guide - WOMMA

Next week, during the annual WOMMA Summit in Las Vegas, I'll have the opportunity to join a panel of distinguished brand representatives who - along with PEMCO  - had case studies featured in the WOMMA Research and Measurement Councils 2012 Guidebook titled "Listening Is Good. Participating Is Better."  Fellow panelists will include Christine Cea, Director of Marketing Communications at Unilever; Deborah Holland, EVP at Publisher's Clearing House; Donna Dernulc, Sr. Operations Manager - Social Media at AT&T; and will be facilitated by Neil Beam, co-author of the guidebook and Director of Client Relations at MotiveQuest. Each of the panelists and the companies they represent - whether global, national, or regional in size - has experienced listening success that has altered or affected a direction, decision, or practice of their company.

Listening = Learning

Listening is learning. Without listening there is no feedback on decisions that have been made; there's incomplete awareness of competitive effectiveness; and there's an absence of understanding opportunity gaps that may exist within the market. Most importantly, without listening the communication loop with current and prospective customers is broken.

I'm convinced that there are four critical decisions that every marketer and company must make:

1. Decide to listen to the market you serve.

2. Decide to be affected by what you hear.

3. Decide to respond to what has affected you.

4. Decide to engage with the community of voices who influence growth and effective change within your brand.

I hope you'll choose to join us as we share our stories in Las Vegas. Please feel free to connect with me on twitter as well.

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The Fine Print

Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own.  Contact me!

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