MARKETING FOR SME'S - ARE YOU LISTENING TO YOUR CUSTOMERS?
In the past, marketing communications were simply a one-way line from company to consumer. It was something left to chance, with a company putting out a message that they hoped would connect with customers. There was no way of gauging whether this message was working or not, and no way of refining it or tailoring it to the customer’s need. In short, it was vague, unfocused, and hopelessly out-of-alignment with customer beliefs, values, and perceptions.
THE COMMUNICATION LOOP
Modern methods of marketing communications revolve around a feedback-like loop:
Create A Message
Send It To A Receiver
Receiver Sends A Message Back
Company Improves Its Communication Based On This
This line of communication will then be repeated, getting stronger and more precise every time as well as improving communications and services. It serves to accentuate and strengthen the bond between brand and consumer as the organisation actively strives to meet their needs.
COLLECTING AND GAUGING FEEDBACK
Feedback can be gathered from your customers through all points of contact. Customers have a wider influence than ever before, over all areas of a company’s business, and therefore a single channel is no longer applicable.
Direct - There can be immediate feedback through front line employees such as sales personnel and telephone contacts.
Questionnaires - These are useful for gathering mass data to then analyse accordingly. Questionnaires and surveys are efficient and cheap ways of gathering quantitative data on how your customers feel about your offerings. In recent years, this has been made even cheaper and simpler by free online survey services such as Survey Monkey. Offering customers an incentive, such as a 10% discount for answering the survey, is an effective way of getting more customers to submit!
Social listening – Social listening refers to the monitoring of your social media channels, looking for any mentions of your brand, services, keywords or competitors. SMEs can use this information to improve their communications and practices in order to more successfully serve their customers. This can also be used to identify gaps in the market that consumers are literally asking to be filled.
This gives businesses an opportunity to start conversations with existing and potential customers, this is a great opportunity to improve your brand's public perception and increase brand loyalty. Social listening can be done using tools such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck.
The old methods of communication are obsolete. Companies must now actively listen to what their customers say about the image of their brand that is being conveyed to them. Feedback is a positive thing: it can inspire the company to employ greater innovation in developing its brand and, in turn, they can get a clearer and more focused message out there. Everyone benefits.
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About the author: Vincent Bissette is the Creative & Managing Director of Propel Marketing & Design, as well as acting as a Brand Advisor at various client companies. For over 30 years Vincent has been helping local and national companies across the UK achieve greater commercial success while minimising the cost of doing it. Vincent has been at the heart of design and marketing in Glasgow for 30 years and. Throughout that time, there’s not much he hasn't done or many industries he hasn't worked in. Now based in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire with Propel Marketing and Design he looks to continue to transform the fortunes of businesses through effective targetted marketing.
Get in touch with him on Linkedin here