Much of the marketing advice you read will be about conversations you should initiate: by writing blog posts, tweeting, or emailing. But what online marketing allows you do most effectively is listen, and you’re not doing your marketing any favors if you don’t take the time to do that.
There’s a LOT of marketing advice out there about how to reach more people. Get more fans. Build your list. And just plain dominate the world with your empire.
But there’s another way to grow your business, and it doesn’t require you to talk to anyone new.
Are you having enough two-way conversations with the folks who are standing right in front of you?
At any given moment, there are literally millions of different conversations happening online, and some of these conversations could actually be related to your specific product or brand. Are you listening to these conversations? If you are, are you listening for more than just mere words but actual insight and usable feedback? These conversations can offer vital information to further improve your business, product, and online reputation. The key to gaining this important insight, however, is often to simply shut up and listen.
Keep in mind that just because a conversation is happening around your brand doesn’t mean you have to jump in the conversation right away, as tempting as it might be. Take the time to listen first, and then use the information you gather during the listening process to respond to your audience in the most effective way possible.
How do you listen and make sure you know what your customers are really saying?
If you really want to find out more about your customers, it’s a great idea to join the conversation where you can. Doing so means understanding what’s important to your customers. Join the communities online where they are, and participate when appropriate, but don’t use the community as a sales platform.
The best way to find the right communities are to think about what challenges your customers might have, not how your salespeople would talk about things. Identify those issues and find communities around them.
If you have a blog, don’t forget to listen to comments.
For some bloggers, they are the fuel that keeps their content creation engines running. For others, they are a nuisance and a hassle — something they try to deal with quickly in order to get to the “real” business of creating content.
And what happens if you get negative, critical, or even trolling comments online? In this guest post on the Entrepreneur in Heels blog, I explain how to manage negative mentions and reviews.
So if you’re not listening yet, start now. You know what to do.