Customers to Brands: #WSILTY (Why Should I Listen To You?)



The words “customer experience” and “engagement” are being bandied about a lot lately, and new tools are being created every day to supposedly help brands bridge the gap between engagement and sales. But let’s not get the cart before the horse. Before you go out and spend money on the next big CEM or SaaS tool, there are two basic principles you need to work on:

  • A Deep Understanding of Your Audience
  • A Crystal-Clear Value Proposition


If this sounds like Marketing 101 to you, well, you’re right. But you’d be surprised how many brands throw these tried and true principles out the window in favor of the next “big idea.” After all, this is a new era, right? Isn’t exploding technology turning marketing on its head?

Yes and no. It’s true that we’re charting new ground when it comes to social connection and engagement, and technology is changing so fast it’s hard to keep up. In this environment it’s easy to feel you’re getting left behind; however, the truth is that we’re all people being carried by the same current. Rather than desperately grasping at every new tool that floats by, it pays to do something counter-intuitive: relax, observe and think.

Who is your audience (really)?

Today’s technologies allow us a myriad of ways to listen to our audiences and learn about their pains, passions and preferences. But do we do it? Not as well as we should. We get caught up in “big data,” but don’t often look deeper. Take a leaf from the old-school books on direct response marketing and spend quality time listening to what your audience has to say. Where do they hang out? What are their dreams? What are their problems? How do they live, play and work? What are the social issues that matter most to them? Unlike the “focus group” marketing of yesteryear, social platforms have brought this type of listening to a whole new level if we’ll just use them.

I’ve talked before about manually digging into people’s social profiles to learn more about them. When brands direct more resources to this type of listening, they gain much greater understanding of their customers and prospects as individuals with hopes, dreams and everyday problems. It’s this knowledge that helps them scale connectivity and engagement, and allows them to create the memorable experiences their audience wants to share.

Why should your audience listen to you?

Today’s consumer is busy, distracted and a little overwhelmed with technology, so once you get to know them, spend time thinking about how you help them. If we spent more time asking ourselves “How can I help?” rather than “How can I sell?” we would be a lot better off.

What makes your brand special? What is it about what you offer (or the way you offer it) that makes people sit up and take notice? Better yet, what makes their experiences with your brand unique? When you know your audience well enough to understand their motivations and empathize with them, it’s much easier to distill your unique value proposition. Having a crystal-clear vision of your value helps your brand in two ways. It helps you create content that will attract your audience, and gives your employees a mission standard for ensuring that all experiences with your brand are exceptional.

Listening to your audience and using what you learn to develop a clear mission and value statement will help you put strategy before tactics—a big advantage in a rapidly changing environment. So before jumping at the next tactic in the technology stream, make sure you are using the tools you already have to answer the #WSILTY question first.

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Why ABC “Always Be Closing” Needs to Change



You’ve heard the words behind the ABC acronym before – Always Be Closing, as the popular interpretation goes. For some, it’s a mission statement, even a way of life. But what does it really mean? All of the emphasis in this version of ABC points to closing. The sale is the end-all of the entire marketing interaction, and everything else is secondary, if it registers at all. Close one deal, don’t look back, and move right along to the next one. As long as the cycle keeps churning, everyone’s happy… right?


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The interim strategy

interimWe say we want to treat people fairly, build an institution that will contribute to the culture and embrace diversity. We say we want to do things right the first time, treat people as we would like to be treated and build something that matters.

But first… first we say we have to make our company work.

We say we intend to hire and train great people, but in the interim, we’ll have to settle for cheap and available. We say we’d like to give back, but of course, in the interim, first we have to get…

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Start Building a Culture of Content Creation & Sharing


For the past several years social media has been a buzzword swamp with marketers chasing one shiny object after another like dogs chasing their tails. Social Listening, Advocacy, Content Marketing, Engagement and Social Marketing to name but a few.

More recently joining the CMO in the chase have been other c-suite executives lured by the promise of a brave new world empowered by social business and collaboration. Or maybe it’s just their fear of losing control and being left behind.

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Why the Best Marketers MUST Embrace Social

From the simplest to understand perspective… the socially nimble company tasks its employees with “opening their listening ears” and tapping into community intelligence (both the company’s and the employee’s communities), then acting on what they’ve learned. This can put you in a much better position than your competitors in two ways: 1) getting a well-focused product to market much faster, and 2) earning a higher level of marketplace trust and identification with your brand.

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Great News in Canadian Retail Just Keeps on Coming!

Over the past year, like many others working within the Retail Industry in Canada, I’ve grown tired of hearing about all the bad news relative to retailers pulling out, closing down or shrinking their store counts here in Canada.

Other than one major ‘faux pas’ by a discount retailer which doesn’t need to be named yet again, the majority of recent store closures have actually been retailers dealing with unprofitable stores in their chain.  And although painful for the individuals and areas where these actions happen, these steps are often necessary to keep the overall chain healthy in the long term.

The great news, and what we should be focusing on instead of the ‘doom and gloom’ of negative reports, is the growing number of new retail entries into Canada and the ongoing industry extensions taking place over the last year.

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