Posts

A Guide For Marketers Who Want to Know What Their Customers Want

It is the job of the marketer to know what their customers want so that they can produce messaging that responds accordingly.  As marketing is not an exact science, sometimes marketing professionals don’t get it right the first time, and have to try a variety of campaign ideas before they hit on one which resonates well with their audience. Often, the marketing department spends quite a lot of money on these unsuccessful campaigns, which results in them being very unpopular with the finance department – as the return on investment is almost negligible.

The good news is that with the wide-spread recognition of digital marketing, marketers don’t have to spend thousands on billboards on the side of the highway without knowing if these are reaching the right market or not. Thanks to programs such as Google Analytics, marketers are now able to see how much traffic is coming to the company’s website and where this traffic is coming from which helps them optimise their campaigns and know which platforms bring in the most traffic.

However, without one fundamental skill no amount of fancy equipment or software will help marketers know what their customers truly want. This is the art of listening to their clients and understanding what they want.

What is listening?

The Merriam Webster Dictionary gives a number of definitions of the word ‘listening’:

  • To pay attention to sound,
  • To hear something with thoughtful attention or to give consideration, and
  • To be alert to catch a familiar sound.

Listening is a superficial activity. It’s all about merely acknowledging the sounds that are picked up by a person’s ear and our brain does nothing with it further. A case in point is that 50% of adults couldn’t detail what a 10-minute oral presentation was all about just moments after they heard it. These subjects were questions 48 hours after hearing the talk and 75% of the listeners couldn’t even recall the topic of the entire discussion.

As we mentioned in the first paragraph, as marketers we need to develop messaging surrounding our brands, products and/or services that respond to audiences that our offerings are aimed at.  This task is made ever-the-more-difficult if we are not taking the information that we are getting from our customers and translating this into actionable insights that will improve our marketing efforts.

Active Listening in The Context of Marketing

Life coaches and psychologists use a technique called active listening. According to Skills You Need:

Active listening means, as its name suggests, actively listening. That is fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively ‘hearing’ the message of the speaker. Active listening involves listening with all senses.  As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is crucial that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening – otherwise the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.

Active listening is about hearing and understanding what a person says so that the listener can act on the information that he or she has heard. This skill is vital for marketers to have because they need to take the information that they hear from their customers and translate this well into the campaigns that they put together.

Copy of Getting Your Content Marketing Checklist Done Right (2).png

However, active listening in marketing may not be the same as in a face-to-face conversation. The traditional definition of active listening does hold in circumstances such as focus groups and other instances of verbal customer feedback. Sometimes a marketer will need to monitor their customers’ behaviour so that they can draw insights from it.

For example, say that a company is getting a lot of visitors on their website but not many of these customers are purchasing from the organisation. The marketer needs to actively listen to this behaviour and see what it is telling them. Insights that could be drawn from this behaviour is that perhaps the copy on the product pages needs to be redone and made more descriptive or the check-out button needs to be made more visible on the website’s home page. The marketer can then take these learnings and implement them to see which one will help to increase sales.

Developing a Thinking Environment

Nancy Kline, in her book called A Time to Think, developed an active listening best practice. She says that for active listening to take place properly, a ‘thinking environment’ needs to be developed. In this kind of environment, there is a listener and a speaker. It is the listener’s job to give their undivided attention to the speaker and they are not allowed to interrupt the speaker’s train of thought. Only if the speaker remains quiet for a protracted period, the listener is allowed to say “Tell me more”. The reason why the listener is not allowed to say anything is that this interjection will disrupt the speaker’s train of thought and they will forget what they are trying to work out.

Emily Havers conducted a study which tested how effective participants felt this methodology was. She found that:

“It was apparent that the Thinking Environment behaviours were considered significantly different from the behaviours that manifest in ‘standard’ business meetings. 95% of interviewees contrasted at least one characteristic of a Thinking Environment meeting with a regular business meeting. The most common attributes of regular business meetings highlighted.”

The skill of active listening is invaluable for marketers as this helps them dig deeper into what the customers are telling them. Armed with this information, marketers can make very definite moves about how to put this information into practice and benefit the business.

Using SWOT Analysis for Clever Content Strategies


In terms of business analysis techniques, a thorough SWOT analysis is possibly the best means of identifying the feasibility of an impending venture or project. This analytical tool is used for the identification and categorization of internal and external factors. Strengths and weaknesses in SWOT analysis are termed as internal factors while opportunities and threats are termed as external factors. Potential ventures are only considered as serious possibilities only when the strengths and opportunities outweigh the weaknesses and threats.

SWOT analyses, flexible as they are, can be conducted for the following:

· a situation

· an organization

· a project

· a new venture

· a country

· a nation

· individuals

While some factors in the SWOT analysis are internal to the venture being undertaken, others are external. Internal factors, quite naturally, involve the internal operations and resources of the organization including the strengths and weaknesses inherent to the project/ venture. External factors, on the other hand, relate to the external environment and elements on which the organisations have no influence, including opportunities and threats.

In order for a SWOT analysis to be carried out correctly, it necessary to focus on internal factors (strengths and weaknesses) before moving on to the external factors (opportunities and threats). This is a fairly straightforward strategy as it is of the utmost importance that you should have a full understanding of the inner workings of your company before considering the world outside.

Internal Analysis: Strengths and Weaknesses

A full internal analysis of your organization will always include its culture, expertise, resources, and unique qualities within the marketplace.


Strengths

A company’s strengths are the basis on which success can be made and sustained. They are, in short, the qualities which enable a business to achieve its goals; adding value or offering a competitive advantage. These qualities should be considered from an internal perspective as well as from the viewpoint of customers and competitors.

Your strengths refer not only to what you are well-versed in or what you have expertise in, but also the traits and qualities your employees possess (individually and as a team) as well as the distinct features that give your organization its consistency. Your company’s strengths include human competencies, process capabilities, financial resources, products and services, customer goodwill and brand loyalty.

In order to discover your business’ strengths, you may wish to consider the following key questions:

· What advantages does your organization have?

· What do you do better than anyone else?

· What unique or lowest-cost resources can you draw upon that others can’t?

· What do people in your market see as your strengths?

· What factors mean that you “get the sale”?

· What is your organization’s Unique Selling Proposition Add to My Personal Learning Plan (USP)?


Weaknesses

Weaknesses will prevent a company from achieving its full potential. Essentially, any factors within the company which do not meet your expectations can be considered a point of weakness. These should be addressed immediately, and if not eliminated, they should be minimized as much as possible.

Weaknesses in an organization could refer to depreciating machinery, insufficient research and development facilities, narrow product range, poor decision-making, high employee turnover, wastage of raw materials, etc. Any of these problems can place you in a negative light and provide your competitors with the advantage they need to climb to the top.

To discover where your company’s weaknesses lie, it is necessary to ask the following questions:

· What factors that are within your control detract from your ability to obtain or maintain a competitive edge?

· What areas need improvement to accomplish your objectives or compete with your strongest competitor?

· What does your business lack (for example, expertise or access to skills or technology)?

· Does your business have limited resources?

· What are people in your market likely to see as weaknesses?

· What factors lose you sales?


External Analysis

External factors to consider in your analysis include the environment in which your organization operates in, your market, the economy, and all of the 3rd parties involved in the day to day running of your business.


Opportunities

Opportunities arise when an organization can benefit from conditions within its operational environment. These opportunities enable you to plan and execute strategies that secure higher profitability rates and as such gain a competitive advantage. More often than not, these opportunities present themselves for a limited amount of time and should therefore be snapped up as soon as they arise. There is a delicate balance to be found in selecting the targets that will best serve the clients while getting desired results.

Opportunities often arise from changes in:

· Technology

· Markets

· Government Policy

· Supply methods

· Social Patterns

· Population profiles

· Global offerings

· Lifestyle

The followings key questions need to be considered:
· What opportunities exist in your market that you can benefit from?

· What interesting trends are you aware of?

· Is the perception of your business positive?

· Has there been recent market growth or have there been other changes in the market to create an opportunity?

· Is the opportunity ongoing, or is there just a window for it? In other words, how critical is your timing?

Threats

Threats arise when conditions in your external environment jeopardise the reliability and profitability of your business. Threats are uncontrollable, particularly when they relate to the aforementioned weaknesses within your company.

Contingency plans should be put in place to combat threats when they arise. Not many businesses can survive being taken completely by surprise.

Major sources of threats are the following:

· Competitors reducing prices

· Supply costs increase

· New Technology

· Government regulations

· Economic downturns

· Changes in consumer behavior

Benefits of SWOT Analysis

In addition to the cost-effectiveness of conducting a SWOT analysis, the following benefits are well worth looking into:

· Wide Range of Applications:

SWOT analysis can be used to conduct competitive analysis, strategic planning or any other study.

· Promotes Discussion:

SWOT analysis promotes discussion. It is important that you have your employees on the same page.


· Provides Visual Overview:

 A SWOT analysis is usually presented as a square, each quadrant representing one factor. This visual arrangement provides a quick overview of the company’s position and encourages dialogue.


· Offers Insight:

SWOT analysis can be used to gain insight about the market, giving you a better understanding of your competition.


· Integration and Synthesis:

SWOT analysis gives the analyst the opportunity to integrate and synthesize diverse information, despite it being qualitative or quantitative in nature. SWOT analysis organizes information that is already known, as well as information that has just been acquired or discovered.



· Fosters Collaboration: SWOT analysis fosters collaboration and encourages open information exchange between a variety of functional areas in a firm that would otherwise not collaborate or interact much

Using SWOT Analysis for Content Strategies

A SWOT analysis is the ideal catalyst for targeted content strategies. The main reason for this is simply the fact that a two-step process (data collection and categorization) is all you really need to fuel various different types of marketing content for your business.

Your content strategy can be evaluated according to the following framework:

Strengths

· List 3-4 major internal strategic strengths of your current content marketing efforts.

· Identify what has been working well for you so far (eg. a well-defined blogging strategy)

· Identify your expertise in certain subjects

· Identify potential partnerships that could assist in promoting your content to generate traffic

Weaknesses
· List 3-4 major internal strategic weaknesses of your current content marketing efforts.

· Identify holes in your resources

· Identify problems with tracking your ROI

· Identify where your focus is lacking (lead generation vs closing deals)

Opportunities
· List 3-4 major external opportunities that exist for anyone working within your market.

· Are there paid distribution opportunities worth looking into?

· Are any platforms looking for specific content that you are able to create?


Threats

· List 3-4 major external threats that exist for anyone working within your market.

· Is your content easily replicated by competitors?

· Do your competitors have better resources than you do?

· an organization

· a project

· a new venture

· a country

· a nation

· individuals

While some factors in the SWOT analysis are internal to the venture being undertaken, others are external. Internal factors, quite naturally, involve the internal operations and resources of the organization including the strengths and weaknesses inherent to the project/ venture. External factors, on the other hand, relate to the external environment and elements on which the organisations have no influence, including opportunities and threats.

In order for a SWOT analysis to be carried out correctly, it necessary to focus on internal factors (strengths and weaknesses) before moving on to the external factors (opportunities and threats). This is a fairly straightforward strategy as it is of the utmost importance that you should have a full understanding of the inner workings of your company before considering the world outside.

Internal Analysis: Strengths and Weaknesses

A full internal analysis of your organization will always include its culture, expertise, resources, and unique qualities within the marketplace.


Strengths

A company’s strengths are the basis on which success can be made and sustained. They are, in short, the qualities which enable a business to achieve its goals; adding value or offering a competitive advantage. These qualities should be considered from an internal perspective as well as from the viewpoint of customers and competitors.

Your strengths refer not only to what you are well-versed in or what you have expertise in, but also the traits and qualities your employees possess (individually and as a team) as well as the distinct features that give your organization its consistency. Your company’s strengths include human competencies, process capabilities, financial resources, products and services, customer goodwill and brand loyalty.

In order to discover your business’ strengths, you may wish to consider the following key questions:

· What advantages does your organization have?

· What do you do better than anyone else?

· What unique or lowest-cost resources can you draw upon that others can’t?

· What do people in your market see as your strengths?

· What factors mean that you “get the sale”?

· What is your organization’s Unique Selling Proposition Add to My Personal Learning Plan (USP)?


Weaknesses

Weaknesses will prevent a company from achieving its full potential. Essentially, any factors within the company which do not meet your expectations can be considered a point of weakness. These should be addressed immediately, and if not eliminated, they should be minimized as much as possible.

Weaknesses in an organization could refer to depreciating machinery, insufficient research and development facilities, narrow product range, poor decision-making, high employee turnover, wastage of raw materials, etc. Any of these problems can place you in a negative light and provide your competitors with the advantage they need to climb to the top.

To discover where your company’s weaknesses lie, it is necessary to ask the following questions:

· What factors that are within your control detract from your ability to obtain or maintain a competitive edge?

· What areas need improvement to accomplish your objectives or compete with your strongest competitor?

· What does your business lack (for example, expertise or access to skills or technology)?

· Does your business have limited resources?

· What are people in your market likely to see as weaknesses?

· What factors lose you sales?


External Analysis

External factors to consider in your analysis include the environment in which your organization operates in, your market, the economy, and all of the 3rd parties involved in the day to day running of your business.

Opportunities
Opportunities arise when an organization can benefit from conditions within its operational environment. These opportunities enable you to plan and execute strategies that secure higher profitability rates and as such gain a competitive advantage. More often than not, these opportunities present themselves for a limited amount of time and should therefore be snapped up as soon as they arise. There is a delicate balance to be found in selecting the targets that will best serve the clients while getting desired results.

Opportunities often arise from changes in:

· Technology

· Markets

· Government Policy

· Supply methods

· Social Patterns

· Population profiles

· Global offerings

· Lifestyle

The followings key questions need to be considered:

· What opportunities exist in your market that you can benefit from?

· What interesting trends are you aware of?

· Is the perception of your business positive?

· Has there been recent market growth or have there been other changes in the market to create an opportunity?

· Is the opportunity ongoing, or is there just a window for it? In other words, how critical is your timing?

Threats
Threats arise when conditions in your external environment jeopardise the reliability and profitability of your business. Threats are uncontrollable, particularly when they relate to the aforementioned weaknesses within your company.

Contingency plans should be put in place to combat threats when they arise. Not many businesses can survive being taken completely by surprise.

Major sources of threats are the following:

· Competitors reducing prices

· Supply costs increase

· New Technology

· Government regulations

· Economic downturns

· Changes in consumer behavior

Benefits of SWOT Analysis

In addition to the cost-effectiveness of conducting a SWOT analysis, the following benefits are well worth looking into:

· Wide Range of Applications:

SWOT analysis can be used to conduct competitive analysis, strategic planning or any other study.


· Promotes Discussion:

SWOT analysis promotes discussion. It is important that you have your employees on the same page.


· Provides Visual Overview:

 A SWOT analysis is usually presented as a square, each quadrant representing one factor. This visual arrangement provides a quick overview of the company’s position and encourages dialogue.


· Offers Insight:

SWOT analysis can be used to gain insight about the market, giving you a better understanding of your competition.


· Integration and Synthesis:

SWOT analysis gives the analyst the opportunity to integrate and synthesize diverse information, despite it being qualitative or quantitative in nature. SWOT analysis organizes information that is already known, as well as information that has just been acquired or discovered.


· Fosters Collaboration: SWOT analysis fosters collaboration and encourages open information exchange between a variety of functional areas in a firm that would otherwise not collaborate or interact much

Using SWOT Analysis for Content Strategies

A SWOT analysis is the ideal catalyst for targeted content strategies. The main reason for this is simply the fact that a two-step process (data collection and categorization) is all you really need to fuel various different types of marketing content for your business.

Your content strategy can be evaluated according to the following framework:


Strengths
· &nbs
p; List 3-4 major internal strategic strengths of your current content marketing efforts.

· Identify what has been working well for you so far (eg. a well-defined blogging strategy)

· Identify your expertise in certain subjects

· Identify potential partnerships that could assist in promoting your content to generate traffic


Weaknesses
· List 3-4 major internal strategic weaknesses of your current content marketing efforts.

· Identify holes in your resources

· Identify problems with tracking your ROI

· Identify where your focus is lacking (lead generation vs closing deals)


Opportunities
· List 3-4 major external opportunities that exist for anyone working within your market.

· Are there paid distribution opportunities worth looking into?

· Are any platforms looking for specific content that you are able to create?


Threats
· List 3-4 major external threats that exist for anyone working within your market.

· Is your content easily replicated by competitors?

· Do your competitors have better resources than you do?

White Papers for B2B Customers

Business to business selling, commonly referred to as B2B, can be a huge help in linking supplier businesses and wholesale outlets to their retail business customers. A common adage mentions that, over and above acquiring their desired products for the best price, what B2B customers really want at the end of the day is flawless customer service.
One of the biggest obstacles in the sales process is miscommunication between buyers and sellers on a fundamental level. This usually occurs when products and their descriptions become overly complicated and wordy. A great tool to overcome this obstacle is the humble white paper.

In layman’s terms a white paper is a summary of a complex issue into wording the average Joe can understand. By carefully constructing and supplying your customer with a white paper describing the benefits of your product, they will immediately become clearer on how exactly this product will benefit them. A white paper should always be as clear and to-the-point as possible.

There is no sense in struggling to communicate a point when it could be made simply and succinctly, eliminating jargon and other confusing terms that may be a barrier to a successful sale.

Knowing About Market Penetration

In the marketing sphere, it is often necessary to keep your fingers in many pies, so to speak, in order to maintain a competitive edge. When marketing a new product, it is of utmost importance to keep a close eye on your market penetration statistics. Market penetration, in a nutshell, refers to the extent to which a product or service is being purchased by customers in the current market. As one would imagine, the market penetration figures for a new product can give a real-world representation of the efficacy of a company’s marketing strategy as a whole. The more convincing you’ve been, the higher the number tends to be.

There are a number of strategies that exist to increase your market penetration, such as dropping the price of your product, bumping up the number of promotional schemes and encouraging non-users to take the plunge and try something new.

All in all, the market penetration figures for a product or service will give you a very clear impression of its popularity, and by extension can validate an entire marketing strategy. It gives a solid impression of the initial and ongoing impact your strategies are having on customers and as such, should be regularly monitored.

Coming to Terms with the Basics of Competitor Analysis

When drawing up your business plan, creating a “competitive analysis” section is of the utmost importance. Competitor analysis allows you to understand your current and potential competition, ensuring the survival and growth of your business. Think of this as a basic profile detailing the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors; enabling you to plan ahead and be at the top of your game.

The first step in your competitor analysis should be to figure out what their strengths are in terms of service, price, inventory, convenience, and location. Balance out these strengths by noting any corresponding weaknesses that you may be able to take advantage of. Take note of their marketing strategies and consider how you could adapt your own strategies to be a step ahead of them. Take the time to figure out what your competitors’ basic objectives are and who their target markets are. Try to tweak your own objectives to set yourself up as a future industry leader.

Competitor analysis might sound complicated and time-consuming. You may have no idea where to begin. Gathering information, however, may be simpler than you think. You have a wealth of valuable resources at your fingertips. Visit competitor websites, search the web for news, public relations, blog posts, social media posts, and product/service comparisons. Make use of online tools, such as Similar Web, which uses a panel of over 100 million monitored devices to gather information, to compare your competitors’ online marketing strategies to your own.

Finally, take a trip to your competitors’ locations and get a first-hand account of their sales materials and of their customer service. Learn from their mistakes and successes.