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The Gift of Listening

We are exactly two weeks away from Christmas. How's your shopping list coming along? I am hopeful that you are seeing significant gift-giving progress happening. At this point, we should have plenty of people crossed off our lists with the prefect present awaiting them under our trees. Are you there yet?

I wonder if you are like me. Most of your shopping for loved ones are taken care of, or at least you know precisely what you plan to get them. However, there is that one relative or friend that has you completely clueless. You have no idea what to get them. They have left you no hints, no signs — they're a closed book.

The secret to becoming the perfect gift-giver that has your recipients panting with anticipation to what you are gifting them is in knowing them. The reason we always have one individual who is tough to shop for is that somewhere along the way, a separation or divide has occurred in the relationship.

Think about it. When is the last time you hung out with that person, talked with them for hours, connected with them on a regular? These are the moments that allow us insight into our loved ones' hearts, minds, and souls. Without this letting in, we are taking our best guess as to what satisfies and makes them happy.

The same holds for our audiences. If we haven't called time out to ensure we leave room to get to know them, then get ready to pull your hair out when the gift-giving time rolls around. Marketing campaigns, content creation, PR pushes, and channels to utilize them all are a mystery when there is a distance between our organization and our member community.

How do we close the gap? By listening and analyzing the stories, they tell us. It is in these stories that our audience share their secrets and themselves with us. The more we listen, review, and examine, the more we know. Their stories live in every reaction and action our audience takes after each marketing touchpoint we provide. It is here they are dropping hints and leaving tips about what the perfect gift looks like for them.

Every email campaign, every social media post, every ad, every direct mail piece, every blog, every podcast, every press release — every single marketing initiative creates an action or reaction. It is here that we learn something new about our members and other stakeholders. If we are not stopping to give space to the analytics behind our efforts, we aren't stopping to listen. We aren't making time for coffee, or even a phone call.

Let's take it one step further. Each of these marketing efforts should make room for or include a mechanism for our audience to talk to us in realtime. In other words, we create opportunities to become well-informed during the campaign; the results post-campaign aid in expanding on and affirming what we have already learned.

The blog needs to encourage comments, social media should have groups for discussions, events require a location for connecting with staff, webinars need a survey for feedback, podcasts could invite listeners on the show, and the list goes on. Also, we can't ignore the power of periodic surveying, virtual focus groups, and a method for capturing ongoing feedback.

The aim is to be creative and innovative about keeping the lines of communication open with your audience, so you become the marketer known for your impeccable gifting.

So, now that your ears are tuned in, what exactly are you listening for? We'll dive into those waters in next week's blog.

In the meantime, raise your antennas a little higher. Your members are speaking, be sure to listen.


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