June 12th, 2010 Archive

Listen Up

June 12th, 2010 by Liz in Financial Freedom

In this day and age, people come up with new products to sell every day. At the same time, many come up with various ways to promote existing ones. This means that competition gets tighter and tighter every day, vying for your customers’ attention. The question is, what can you do to get ahead of the competition? How can you show your existing and potential customers that your product is better than the rest of what’s out there? Sounds mind boggling doesn’t it? Well, really, it’s not. <g>

The good old ways 

It used to be that companies held focused group discussions, market research, surveys and comments/suggestions hotlines or paper slips to get reactions and feedback from their customers. These are all well and good and reliable, but could also cost a lot of money and resources. However expensive they may be, they are still widely used nowadays by many companies. 

But, and this is a big but, only dead fish swim with the water. In the tides of today’s business, it’s dreadful to just go with the flow and do what everybody else does. With the ever-increasing choices fuelled by the onset of information, it’s easy to get caught in the wave. 

You see, there are those who merely observe and watch what the market wants first before putting something out there. Then, there are the radicals who only want to change and change, until they get too caught up and lose their identities. In the middle of all these, there are the neutral ones who are undecided about what they want to do and are completely satisfied in just earning and letting others move the pieces around. Once in a while though, there come the brilliant ones who start trends and become the earth movers that the business world needs. You could be one or all of these people, but you don’t need to become a fish out of water in order to find out. 

The secret to experience change is to be the change you want to see. These changes need not be something sparkly and spectacular. They could simply be reinventions or a small tweaks in the way you’ve been doing things that can open up new opportunities. It’s just being at the right place and at the right time with the right solution. Some ideas are no longer new in themselves, but their implication to your business can be the exact change you need. 

Source: GettyImages.com

21st century improvements  

Often, we only listen to the things we’d like to hear: the good and the positive. However, there are times when positive feedback may come few and far between. As you may well know, that doesn’t bode well for business. It means that something has got to change. You need to turn a new leaf, or perhaps even a new ear, so to speak.

One money-making success secret from Dr. Jim Anderson in his Small Business CEO Magazine article , A New Way to Listen to What Your Customers Are Saying About You, is that you could, or better yet should, listen to what your existing customers have to say about your products. Their feedback can help you make improvements to your products, as well as how to present and market them. Since they’re looking at it from the outside, they bring a new perspective into the mix. How’s that for, “Oh, I should have thought of that!” scenarios?  <g>   

You have to listen to both sides of what your customers are saying. We are constantly bombarded with information — even to the point of receiving negative and critical comments — and they may make us feel down and out and criticized. Turning a new ear, like turning a new leaf, is shifting our attention on how we view this information. 

With the Internet’s continuous growth, plenty of new ways are available. Not only do you save up on money, manpower and resources, you could also save up on space. You could advertise, sell and distribute your product from your home. You could even get real-time feedback in your website, or search for what they’re saying about you in blogs, social media networks and forums. If you know about my husband Ric and I, and how we started and run our businesses, you’ll know that we are big fans of these new and improved marketing strategies. But that’s another story altogether. <g>

This approach focuses on knowing how to advertise and market your products. Your customers’ comments can provide a springboard for a theme you can campaign for. Most customers would notice the tiniest details like how the sun shines in their hotel room, the busyness of the street or the packaging of a product, and these details could be powerful imagery you can use for launching or promoting your product. You could build, rebuild and reformat marketing strategies and campaigns at nearly the drop of a hat with this information. 

The trick is in knowing what, how and to whom to advertise. Some people may already know the features of your product, but not all may know its other benefits. Thinking out of the box does not mean you have to go too much out of your way to boost your advertising campaign. It could be as simple and easy as pinpointing the other benefits that lie just beneath the surface. 

In with the old, in with the new 

Don’t let your fear overtake your passion for what you do. Listen to your customers’ feedback – positive and negative – and use that information to reinvent your product and boost your advertising and marketing strategies. Use the Internet and whatever technology is available to your advantage. Milk these 21st century inventions for what they’re worth. <g>

However, don’t let go of the good old ways too. There’s nothing wrong with holding focused group discussions, market research and personal, one-on-one surveys. They may be old, but if you’ve already got the resources, why not spend a little. At the end of the day, they, too, are still very reliable. Use the gifts that those before you have created. Mix the old with the new, and experience how this convergence could bring you more profits and business this 2010 and beyond.  

Do you listen to what your customers are saying about you? What other 21st century marketing strategies do you think could help improve your product and business? Share your thoughts with us through the comments section below. 

Happy fishing!
Liz