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Stop Talking, Start Listening: 5 Ways to Better Hear what Customers Want

Is Your Brand's Message Getting Through   Shhh. Can you hear that? Your customers are out there, talking to you, telling you what they want you to sell them. But can you hear them, or are you too busy talking?   The average adult uses 40,000 words per day, or five hours of continuous talking. Most brands do the same thing—they are never quiet long enough to find out about their customers’ needs, pain points, desires, hopes, or dreams.   Traditionally, advertising has encouraged bombarding potential customers with generic messages. Repetition is the name of the game—and while it is true that it may take 7 times of hearing a message before customers will pay attention, the truth of the matter is that they simply don’t care about your product or service. They are too overwhelmed in their daily lives and simply cannot pay attention. What’s worse, because they hear so many competing advertisers shouting at the top of their lungs, each one vying for attention, they have simply tuned everyone out.   Marketers will tell you that you must be more focused. By selecting a handful of your existing and most profitable customers, this approach takes a more laser-beam approach to communicating your product, service, or company’s message. It’s true that marketing is more effective, but the problem is that you are still talking over your customers (and sometimes even down to them), and not listening to what they really need. It pays to listen.   Some of the ways in which companies and brands can listen—really listen—to their customers is through the use of the following tactics.   1. Observe customers while they are purchasing or using your product or service. Where do they buy it? How do they buy? How are they using it?   2. Observe the other brands that are around your product or service. Certain types of retailers will cluster around each other because their target audiences are similar. What are the messages they are using to communicate?   3. Find out what customers are reading. No matter how niche a market you have, odds are you will find a few magazines that appeal to your target market where you can discover trends that are affecting them, as well as imagery and messaging that appeals to them. These publications already do a great amount of research into your target market, so why not use that to your advantage?   4. Send Surveys to find out what customers think. This can be done with prospective customers to find out what they are really looking for, or as a follow up to a previous purchase in order to find out how you can do better at providing the product or service.   5. Engage a third-party person or company to call and interview current and former customers about their perceptions and experiences using your brand. Their time is valuable, so keep these calls short, and ask no more than 5–6 questions. Open-ended questions will provide insight into their true thoughts, feelings and motivations, as well as spur further discussion.   By: Ryan Hembree, Principal | Brand & Creative Strategy