Where Does Marketing Start?

Source of spring water. Where does marketing start?

Here’s something I haven’t done lately – and I am going to go out on a limb and guess you haven’t done it either: called up five to ten of my customers and asked them to tell me about the challenges they are facing these days. And then listened.

And listened some more.

And ideally, I’d call up five to ten people who I would like to have as a customer, and another five or ten that I have not been able to win as a customer (yes, I confess, it happens!)

This is different from sending out a survey, or conducting a focus group. These tools have their place, but even at their best they tend to be fraught with potential errors and biases.

It’s different from e-mail, though that may have to do in a pinch.

And it’s different, even, from using some of the great social media approaches that are now available for validating your market and “listening” to the Web.

Nothing beats good,  one-on-one, personal conversations for helping us to break down assumptions and put ourselves in the shoes of our customers or members.

That, in my opinion, is where marketing starts: at the place where no assumptions exist.

The “White Magic” of Listening to Your Market

Listen to Market - Image of hand cupped over ear

Stop jabbering like a magpie. Notice what’s actually happening, not just what you think is happening or wish were happening. Look and listen. – Epictetus

A while back a friend  gave me a copy of Brian Tracy’s book on advanced selling principles. I found the book relatively useful overall, but one thing about it that stuck with me was Tracy describing listening as a sort of “white magic.” It’s an extremely powerful concept – one most of us understand intuitively but do not practice enough. [Read more…]