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Watch and Learn

I am a member of the most remarkable church on Earth. I am a single mama, and as a part of showing love to me, my church takes my daughter Christmas shopping each year. The church invites members who are single parents to drop off their children with them for a few hours. A shuttle comes to drive the children to the store, who are provided with a gift card to buy presents for mom or dad.

It never fails. Every Christmas, I open my gifts from my daughter, and each one is truly me. She's been shopping for me since she was five years old and always gets it just right. From a collage of picture frames to hair products, my girl knows what mama likes.

The first year, I was drenched in tears as I realized how much my little girl knows and understands my wants, needs, and desires. Only a kindergartner, but yet she was receptive enough to pick out and wrap-up the gifts that spoke to the person I am. How did that happen? What skills did my daughter utilize and employ to gift me perfectly?

She watched, she listened, and in doing so, she learned. She studied my behavior, actions, and reactions to my world. Her ears were pierced against the walls of my life, taking in every word and connecting them to my needs. My daughter did what every good marketer does — she spent time with her audience.

In that time spent, she investigated and analyzed me. She was Inspector Gadget, and every marketer at some point is (or at least should be) doing the same thing. We are putting on our trench coats, pulling out our magnifying glasses, and seeking out the stories that our audience is telling us about themselves.

Every touch point should give room to audience response and feedback. Social media shares and comments, there's a story. Email opens and click-thru rates, there's a story. Booth visits, webinar attendance, podcast downloads, contest participation — are all stories. Our job is to determine the plot and story line our audience is recounting.

We've got data, but are we only using it to push our agendas, or are we examining it to learn about those we serve? Reports and analytics do so much more than tell us how successful we are. They inform us about the five w's of our audience. We ask the questions, who, what, where, when, and why. Our interactions with our target groups and their responses will allow the answers to bubble to the surface if we're willing to watch and learn.

Christmas is the time of year where our eyes are less on ourselves and more on the world around us. In our marketing efforts, I say, let it be Christmas all year round. Let our focus always be one that is front and center on our member or donor community. Let us remain the students and empower our audience as teachers.

Pencils up! Time to take notes, our audience is speaking. Get in position, as this is an approach that creates the gift that keeps on giving!


Nona A. Phinn


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