Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Note to marketers: Less talking, more listening

I'm often amazed at how many times I need to hear a message before it sinks in. In the marketing world, they say a person has to actually see your message at least six times or more before it motivates them to take action. When you are the one responsible for getting the message out those six times, its humbling to be reminded that listening is more important than talking.

My business partner, Rustin, and I have been working like crazy people for the past month building a new set of Premium features to help bloggers get more visibility for their blogs. We've sorted through hundreds of emails from users who write to us with suggestions, ideas, complaints, kudos, and "what ifs". Every time someone takes five minutes to write us an email or tweet us feedback, its like a gold nugget of insight. Making time to sort through this feedback is one way of listening. But listening is not a one time event. Its not like you can listen today and then say you're good for the rest of the month.

Our next step is to build the features we heard people wanted, give them back to users to play with and then ask "Is this what you wanted?". Its another way of asking "Did we hear you correctly?" After you do that, shut up and listen again. If we marketers would stay quiet long enough and tone down our urge to put thoughts in other people's heads, we might actually hear what they really want. Its way more efficient (and profitable) to give users what they really want instead of trying to convince them they want or need something you want them to want.

So we've had our listening hats on for weeks. We released the new set of Premium Features on Friday to our Community Leaders, a group of 30+ super-users who love our product and are opinionated about what makes them happy. The pickier the better, I say. We emailed, twittered, and talked on the phone. We walked through every screen and asked about icons, links, messaging and expectations. We made changes over the weekend and today we'll send our Premium features back out into the world to an even larger audience to try. This time, we're inviting our Facebook fans and a set of randomly selected users to give it a whirl.

Once we invite them to try it, I will bite my tongue and listen. If you teach your users that you are open to receiving criticism and feedback (and genuinely mean it), you will find a very willing audience of people eager to help make your product better. So stay tuned and I'll share how this next "wave" of features was received.

Note: Want to be one of the users to try our new Premium features early? Sign up here and let me know what you think. I promise I will listen :)


Krystena K. said...

Hi Holly! Wow, there's a "wealth" of information here. I cant wait to jog back through some of your entries. I love your tips on how to get more traffic on your blog. I'll be back!

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