Monday, July 04, 2005

Contextual Marketing Calls for Better Listening

If I pay attention to my own words then true concern for the customer is a transformation we all must go through. The fastest way to demonstrate concern about anyone else is to listen to them when they talk. But listening is so difficult because what we really want to do is to talk and impress those around us. So in some ways, becoming a better listener is the first rule for contextual marketing. The admonition comes from the Bible when James spoke: let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.

More contemporary advice comes from a newsletter by James Manktelow & Kellie Fowler of Mindtools.

Their June newsletter recommends four points:
1. Repeat the facts you just heard
2. Share the thoughts and beliefs you heard
3. Convey and underlying feelings and emotions you believe are involved
4. Take the time to communicate the message sender’s wants, needs and expectations

They caution not to insert questions while the other person is speaking. Let them finish before interrupting. Instead, they look beyond the words for the feelings and the intent. By doing this, you ensure you receive the entire message every time. If you are the least bit unclear what was said, ask for clarification – this is still part of listening.

Can you see how effective listening now becomes part of the interactive process for contextual marketing?

By listening, you can now provide more effective help to the customer because what you say or do will be contextually relevant to the customer’s stated needs. Sometimes you can conduct this conversation directly with the customer – telemarketing or during a sales call. Most times, you will be presenting content or programs that leave the customer with the option to directly or indirectly communicate important things about his or her needs.

For example, your website opens with content about a customer need and then gives the visitor the option to click on one of three options. The path that the visitor takes is important … it is the visitor’s way of talking with you. But you need to be listening and then continuing the dialogue to hold their attention.

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