Stop Shouting and Start Listening: Your Customers Are Talking.

It used to be that your marketing efforts had to find a way to INTERRUPT what the customer was doing— reading a magazine, watching a movie—and then convince them to pay attention to your message.

Good luck with that these days.  Today’s consumers and business people are distracted and perpetually multi-tasking. The DVD and streaming video services have put them in control of their own programming.

Some marketers think the answer is to shout louder.  More aggressive creative, more frequent email blasts to larger and larger numbers of people, pre-rolls and welcome screens are all part of the shock-and-awe marketing arsenal.

But if you stop shouting for a moment, you’ll find that something amazing is happening. Today, customers are TELLING YOU what they need, when they need it, and how they want to hear from you.  If you start LISTENING, you will be able to create marketing strategies that are more targeted, more relevant and more effective than any push-marketing initiative you’ve ever seen.

Every moment of the day, customers are now sharing actionable information about what they’re doing, what they like and where they are.  Facebook users share 30 billion pieces of content every month.  Twitter users send 140 million tweets every day.  On April 16, 2011, Foursquare users shared their location 3 million times.  And the more they share, the more likely they are to be a valuable customer.  Radio Shack found that Foursquare users spend 3.5x more than regular customers.

But are you listening?  And do you have a plan for turning social media conversations into actionable marketing initiatives?

The conversations taking place all around you will tell you everything you need to know about your customers, your products and your company:  who they are, what they care about, what they’re saying about you and your competitors, whether they’ll buy or recommend your products.  In Listen First!, ARF Knowledge Director Stephen D. Rappaport–who will be moderating a panel on Listening at the June 6 Realtime NY conference–outlines the strategies for effective listening, the tools that let you monitor customer conversations, how listening strategies can be applied to business objectives, and showcases numerous examples of how brands have achieved breakthrough results through listening-led innovations.

Gatorade has established a 24/7 “Mission Control” center to monitor social media conversations, which has allowed the brand to manage perceptions of its brand and leverage consumer feedback to marketing campaigns to amplify buzz.  The right tools are critical:  Kellogg used an extensive and inclusive process to evaluate and select realtime monitoring tools for its team.  Frank Eliason, formerly the voice behind @ComcastCares and now Citibank Senior Vice President of Social Media, has pioneered the listening revolution, redefining customer service from an after-sale support function to one that’s an effective, proactive marketing strategy.

Using realtime listening strategies, brands can identify actionable opportunities to drive sales, manage their reputation, delight customers and gain a competitive advantage.  But only if they stop shouting long enough to hear what their customers are saying.

Learn more about listening, and how to use social media monitoring to create effective, actionable marketing strategies: Gatorade, Kellogg’s and Citibank will all be on a panel focused around listening strategies, moderated by Steve Rappaport, at Realtime NY on June 6.