The more I think about marketing and believe me I think about it a lot. It is quite simply communication. Making sure that you communicate with your customers on a regular basis.
However that has caused me to think more about what communication is. And I realised that just like communication in personal relationships business relationships should not just be one way! A business sending out communications to customers and then sitting back and waiting for them to buy your product or service. If you are truly going to communicate you need to do two additional things.
Firstly you need to listen to your customers and take time to do so. Ask your customers their views on your business. They like your business and will feel valued that you asked. So if you are making changes to your business or your product. Ask your customers what they think first. Give them the chance to comment and let you know what they think first. Equally nobody likes criticism and its often to feel that’s what it is when you get a complaint. Actually its a brilliant opportunity for you to listen to your customers and improve what you do as a result! And I know it’s not easy I speak as one who hates criticism. But equally I know that businesses who thrive are those who treat customer complaints seriously and listen. Finally as well as listening to your customers it is also a good idea to be savvy about what is happening in your industry, what your competitors are doing and how things that are happening in the economy might affect you. For example right now you might want to consider how the continued downturn is going to affect you. The dissatisfaction with big brands and how the wet summer could affect your business. To take a couple of examples. Ask your customers how they feel about these issues. By listening you can make plans how you are going to deal with these things. By listening you will be in the know and better prepared.
This leaves me to my second point. And this is just as crucial as listening! Once you have listened you need to act on it. Too many businesses carry out expensive research and do nothing. Or hear complaints from customers and carry on regardless and do nothing. Or realise that the economy is affecting their business yet sit back and do nothing. It is crucial that you listen but it is just as important that you then act on it and let your customers know you have done so. By letting them know what you are doing and why.
Marketing for me is simply good communication. Talking about your business yes. But it also has to be listening and then acting on what you hear. Its simple. Talk, Listen and ACTION.