In a consumer-driven world where social networking, MySpace, blogs, and podcasting rule, prepackaged and mass-targeted campaigns are dead; word of mouth is king. While many companies believe that expensive campaigns and elaborate slogans will do the trick, what they really need is to learn to listen to their customers and rethink their marketing strategies. In Beyond Buzz, author Lois Kelly provides tools and guidance and offers hands-on advice on how to listen to customers, identify what's important to them, and craft a marketing message that will resonate as a result. CRM's Colin Beasty spoke with Kelly about the book.
CRM magazine: We now live in a consumer-dominated environment. How has that influenced marketing over the past few years?
Kelly: One of the big trends, and this might sound trivial, is people want to connect with people. Consumers have come to reject the starched, corporate, all-about-us, prepackaged marketing message; they simply don't believe companies anymore. They want to connect with people, so they're listening to other consumers via blogs, the Internet, and product review publications, such as J.D. Powers, to get the real message. In marketing and sales, we've been trained to talk about our company. Customers don't want to hear that. They want ideas, advice, things that are innovative. If a company wants to connect with their products and services, they need to talk about more than just themselves. That's how you begin to build relationships and consumer trust.
CRM magazine: How are companies changing their marketing tactics and campaigns to reflect this new market?
Kelly: Companies are starting to listen by bringing customer thoughts and sentiments about their products and services back into sales and marketing departments, such as joining online communities and commenting on blogs. But it's not happening fast enough because it's a foreign concept to most executives. They've been trained and have succeeded by the old-school practice of being in control of the message. Marketing has always been like a manufacturing plant: We mass-produce Web sites and advertisements to be distributed to the masses. Now consumers are much smarter, and they're generating their own content about a company. An organization can't control that, they can only participate.
CRM magazine: What will readers find most interesting about your book?
Kelly: They'll learn how to listen and participate in a two-way conversation with customers. When you listen you garner the feedback that can help drive your marketing and communication strategy. They'll also learn how to leverage their company's point of view. Every company has its own beliefs and ideas about itself, its products and services. Those ideas are what provoke conversations. When people get involved in conversations, they start to understand you as a company, and that's what leads to good customer relationships and trust. In short, a company's point of view is how customers get to know you. It's the additional fundamental that every marketing organization needs to know.
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