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Listen to Your Customers

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Listen to Your Customers

Have you ever tried watching a foreign film without the subtitles on?

I know it sounds like a silly thing to do, and I can’t say I make a habit of it, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. See I have a friend who works in graphics and animation who discovered this truly beautiful French live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.

Just from the trailer, you could see that every freeze-frame looked like a meticulous oil-painting so of course, we had to watch it. The only problem was the film hadn’t (yet) been released with English subtitles, and neither of us spoke French, and yet we found ourselves settling in for the full two hours. Visually it was spectacular, but when it came to dialogue and major plot points, we often found ourselves just a bit lost.

See the problem was that we were watching but we weren’t listening and without being able to listen there really is no way to truly understand.

Like I said, I know that watching a foreign film without subtitles seems like a pretty silly thing to do but for so many businesses when it comes to their content and marketing strategies I see people who seem to be content with just watching and never really listening.

They’re content to watch their engagements fluctuate up and down or dwindle and yes they might be rightly alarmed but they never really stop to ask why and they certainly don’t take the time to ask the right people.

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey states:

“We must first seek to understand, then to be understood.”

What does this mean? Well, it means that the customers’ needs and desires and likes and dislikes precede those of your business. And this really shouldn’t be a jarring concept (although for some people I speak to it really does seem that way).

Small Businesses, and in fact all businesses, exist on a simple formula of supply and demand.

In order to build a viable, profitable business, you first need to establish that people actually want to purchase or utilise the products and services you’re offering. Just like the age-old adage says, “You can’t sell ice to an Eskimo”; you need to make sure that the product or service you’re supplying is of value to your customers.

For the most part, we seem to be good at using this formula for our business models, so why is it we seem too shy or too unwilling to utilise this same practice in regards to our marketing?

When it comes to content marketing especially, there is no point in supplying content that your customers don’t want to read, watch or listen to. Your first priority should always be to create content that is valuable to your target market and can relate back to your business.

But the question is: How do you identify what kind of content your customers actually want?

Well (it’s a simple one), you turn on the subtitles, and you listen and understand.

Actually getting customer feedback doesn’t have to be some big, money-swallowing process.

For a Small Business, it could be as simple as utilising Facebook polling. Put out a poll and ask your followers how they prefer to consume content from you; a blog, a video, or a podcast? Or put up three alternate article headlines and ask them which one they’d most like to read. Whatever they choose is the one you’ll write and post next week.

Some people might think that this sort of method feels unprofessional or quirky but trust me when I tell you that customers love being a part of the process and seeing their input at work will make them feel 100-times more valued.

Of course, there are so many different ways you could seek feedback, whether it be an online questionnaire, an email feedback form, or just inviting people to comment or review with their opinions.

My point isn’t about ‘how you do it’ (I trust you’ll find what works for you), my point is that you do ‘do it’.

When you seek first to understand what your customers actually want then you’ll be able to create content specifically targeted to their needs and desires that are going to achieve much better engagements and leads for your business.

A few months after my friend and I watched that French film they actually released it on Netflix with English dubs (so much better than just subtitles!) and so, of course, we had to watch it again and see if our initial idea of the story had been right. The first time we watched the film in awe and confusion, this time we laughed till we cried at just how wrong so many of our assumptions had been.

Don’t make assumptions when it comes to your clients and your content, because chances are you’ll be wrong.

Ask the question, listen to the answer and move forward with understanding.

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  • Clive
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    Thankyou Tracy I am going to set up a Facebook Poll to see what our customers in Over Board Cafe think of our menu offering; stay with the tried and trusted Flat White or onwards and upwards to the Caffeine free Rainbow Latte… Fish and Chips or Organic Mushroom Brown Rice Rissotto…. it may seem tribal and I have no idea where its all leading however this mportant stuff!

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