Ever felt your words falling on deaf ears? It’s frustrating. When a speaker doesn’t feel heard, the outcome is a missed connection between two parties and a potential lack of understanding by the listener. But it’s from this experience of not being heard that we understand the importance of listening first.
Active listening applies to both sharing and receiving information and is particularly vital when applied to marketing. Sure, brand messages and conversation with a friend are two very different forms of communication, but both are rooted in connection, and connection needs intentionality. As Stephen R. Covey put it, “Most people do not listen with intent to understand, they listen with intent to reply.” As with the case of a passive listener who waits for their turn to talk, there’s a similar loss of connection when brands don’t first listen to understand their customer before communicating.
If you’re struggling to get your marketing message to resonate with your audience, try speaking with your audience rather than speaking at them by intentionally listening to them.
We believe there are three keys to this type of intentional communication that should be adopted in marketing strategy.
It begins with caring; valuing your audience enough to put effort into understanding them. The best approach is one of preparedness, and there are few better ways to prepare than understanding who it is that you’re speaking to. Many may not reach this step, instead allotting energy to formulating the perfect message, with disregard for what it is the audience wants to hear. The result: a message that’s deficient in meaning with recipients. Your product may be the perfect solution to your customers’ needs, but failing to present it in a relevant way results in a message that falls flat.
It’s not simply a game of who has the loudest voice. Rather, the goal is to deliver a meaningful message to your audience. Engaging your audience by listening with intent to understand creates a bigger impact when it’s your turn to speak. Cooperation is a two-sided endeavor, and it’s the responsibility of both parties to bring effort into communication, especially when you’re one brand in an endless sea of marketing transmissions trying to get your message across.
Valuing genuine connection turns your communication into a conversation and invites involvement and engagement from the other side. Two-way communication is necessary for connecting with audiences, especially in the modern era of relationship marketing. A brand connection, like any connection, is born from trust. There are multiple avenues to building trust, but the meaningful connection that you’re after cannot be developed in the absence of listening.
Yeah, alliterative bullet points are great, but the point is: Effective communication requires intentional, active listening. Active listening provides insight, develops understanding, fosters engagement and creates real connection. Ultimately, it’s about cultivating relationships with your followers and audience. When your audience feels that they’re part of the conversation, they’re more likely to be engaged in the relationship.
So, what’s your audience saying?