Listening – The Secret of Real Engagement

The marketing industry’s buzzword in recent years has been engagement. Forget all the old ways, we are told, engagement is where it’s at. I couldn’t agree more, getting your target audience interested enough to interact with your brand is essential to success. But I think successful marketing goes deeper than this. Before we get to engagement we need to understand not only the dynamics of the marketplace, but the way our customers and prospects think and behave.

It has long been The Marketing Forge’s belief that getting into the mindset of a given customer base is really important. What is important to companies providing goods and services, might not be what motivates customers. It might seem logical that a target audience might be motivated by one key factor such as say, service or reliability. It is tempting to take such logic as a given. However, the target audience might be searching for immediacy, or quality, or sustainability, or expertise or any other number of factors.

Successful marketing communication must identify not only what these factors are but we must be able to priortise key issues from the consumer’s perspective. (This is true whether dealing directly with consumers or if working in a specialist B2B market). Sure, social media is one way to help identify such factors, but real understanding comes from original research, when consumers are given a chance to articulate their decision making criteria and behaviours. For those of you who have never experienced it, there is nothing so enlightening as listening to respondents in a qualitative research setting discussing their purchase behaviour and decision making criteria. Who are the decision makers? Who are the influencers? How do their perspectives differ? How is your brand viewed in relation to competitors? Which brand is associated with the attribute that’s being searched for?

So, before you assume that your marketing is great because your use of social media is prolific, make sure that you understand the psychology of your customer base. Listening is the route to success.thinking

5 Reasons Why You Need A Clear, Corporate Vision

All companies should have a corporate vision, whether a one man band or a large multinational. Sadly, not all companies do, although you can usually tell those that don’t. They tend to be not quite as successful or slick as those companies who have taken time to create and share their vision. Those companies without one might, if they are lucky, be successful in spite of themselves – but only temporarily so. Companies sustaining growth and success, tend to have clarity about business direction. They tend to better understand the dynamics of their marketplace and their position within it.

Lacking in more ways than one, companies without vision are vulnerable. They tend to be slow to react to changes in the market place and in today’s challenging times, who can afford to be like that? If an innovation occurs, a recession lingers or a competitor or new entrant is biting at their heals, then it can be very hard to retain or claw back market position.

Those companies who have not thought clearly about their direction aren’t really fit for purpose. Whereas those with an up to date vision, one which has perhaps organically evolved from the original, tend to be more successful: leaner, fitter and more attuned to the market in which they operate.

Keeping a vision up to date is really important. It’s not really good enough to keep wheeling out an old tired vision that had relevance when the company was first established, many moons ago. The trouble is many may start with one, but somewhere along the line they forget what it was that first ignited the entrepreneurial flame.
Oh, everybody can spout the company mission statement, but it loses relevance as market forces change.

So what are the five key facts that you need to know about vision?

No 1 – Having a corporate vision is empowering and increases the chances of business success. This sets the parameters for the company’s business operations and its growth and development.

No 2 – Vision enables staff to react to commercial opportunities and to innovate where appropriate. It ensures relevance in different market places and gives staff permission to develop and explore.

No 3 - Vision is not a static mission statement, but a statement of intent that, over time, organically adjusts to the way a target audience evolves. The essence of the vision may remain the same and its very definition should not constrict but enable.

No 4 – Great vision tends to lead to a stronger brand definition. Customers tend to have a clearer understanding of the brand, a healthier interaction with it and greater brand loyalty.

No 5 – All business stakeholders should be clear about a company vision. It should not be something dreamed up by senior management and kept within a board room. Ideally, vision should be created by staff, clients and stakeholders. Everybody should get where the company is coming from and indeed, going to!

The time is right to define or revisit your corporate vision. Make sure that it is appropriate for the present and the future and that it has relevance to your company, your target audience and to your staff.