ARE YOU LISTENING TO YOUR CUSTOMERS? - MARKETING FOR SME'S
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have a wider influence than ever before, over all areas of a company’s business, and therefore a single channel is no longer applicable.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 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 and Google Forms. 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.
About the author: Vincent Bissette is a freelance Brand Strategy and Design Consultant with over 30 years experience of branding and rebranding businesses and organisations, systematically, thoroughly and objectively. He has worked in major Design Consultancies as well as having run his own agency for 25 years, working with SMEs all over the UK to help them modernise their brand, grow their business, attract new customers, penetrate new markets and increase their sales, market share and profit. Throughout that time, there’s not much he hasn't done or many industries he hasn't worked in. He’s a creative, strategic thinker and problem solver with a wealth of experience in diagnosing trouble spots in brands and discovering their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Now based in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, he works throughout the entire UK.
Get in touch with him on Linkedin here