Kevin Goddess discusses the growth of online video and the opportunity for brand's willing to...
Listening To You
This is the second in a series of whitepapers that focus on the changing marketing environment and the opportunities for businesses to establish themselves within it.
That listening to consumers and engaging them in conversation are integral steps in today's marketing dynamic should not be breaking news. As markets, technology and societal attitudes and behaviors have evolved, the hierarchy between brands and consumers has flattened—and it continues to level out. While traditional media remains an important part of many marketing plans, companies who rely upon the former standard of interrupting consumers to push a commercial relationship are missing opportunities to build their brands and attract new customers.
A Change in Mindset
The content marketing possibilities in today's mobile, multi-screen, multi-channel universe are nearly limitless, yet the agility needed to capitalize on these opportunities challenges many marketers' established sensibilities. Sticking to old ways can hamper business growth, though. IBM, for example, lagged behind Microsoft and Apple in shifting to an Internet business model and lost tremendous market share as a result.
The two-way marketing dynamic is definitely a challenge, though, for marketing traditionalists. "It's not what we have historically taught in business schools," explains Sandy Jap, chaired professor marketing at Emory University's Goizueta Business School, in the 2010 paper, Marketing's New World Order: Consumers Talk Back—and Everyone Hears. "It's not what we've been trained to do. It's kind of like blind date—some people are good at managing a conversation and listening in a two-way conversation, and others are not. Well, some firms are just really bad at going on a blind date."
Steve Ennen, president and chief intelligence officer of Dallas-based Social Strategy 1, agrees. "Even at the highest levels of marketing communications and brand management, people narrowly view channel proliferation as just more vessels to push out more content," he says. Ennen explains that the mindset shift will occur, "when marketers accept that brands and content are no longer fully in their hands, and that the gateway ahead is in sharing."
In addition to recognizing and accepting listening as a marketing foundation, though, companies must have systems in place to convert insight and intelligence into opportunity, and they must be aligned with strategic objectives. "Deciphering content from channel to channel is as complex and nuanced as language itself," says Ennen. "Not listening is one mistake—misunderstanding the conversation is another."