Consultative Marketing.

Going through my daily read of the marketing news and blogosphere, I came across an interesting post by Joe Marchese from Media Post. The reason why it caught my attention is it is something I have been thinking about a lot lately. Joe spoke about word of mouth (WOM) marketing and how there has been a big buzz surrounding it lately because of social media.

The part of Joe’s post which really got my attention was further down in the article. There were a few points which he made which I would like to expand upon. Joe said,

When blogs first became the rage…I remember people talking about customer service as the key to marketing success, because now “average” people could blog about bad experiences and influence thousands…We could fill the rest of this article just listing companies that succeeded based on putting customer experience first, long before the word blog made it into Webster’s.

He also mentioned,

As consumer-review Web sites took the forefront as the vogue purchase influencer to discuss, it put the marketing community in a tizzy…(because)if you build bad products, people will tell others — and you won’t be able to convince them, through marketing, that your products are better, unless your products really are better.

First of all, we all remember products which were marketed to the hilt but didn’t meet consumer expectations. Anyone out there still remember Crystal Pepsi? If you don’t here is a video on YouTube of one of its commercials. I chose to link to the video instead of embedding it here so you can see the conversation surrounding this product. This is a shining example of how marketers can “listen in” on the conversations and use the feedback to improve product development, and marketing.

Anyone who has been in sales has heard the term “consultative selling”. I want to propose that is what the new social media channels is enabling. Not only can and should marketers listen in to feedback on their current products for improvement. They should also get involved in the conversation where appropriate on a more proactive basis to fix any wrongs, and offer incentives and perks to brand loyalists which help show their brand in a good light.

Beyond that basic level though as marketers we should be listening in on the “bigger conversation”. As an automotive marketer(brand) we should be listening in on conversations involving the market as a whole. Listening to the thing the “people” want, the thing the people “need”, and distinguishing between the two. Listen to their them on an emotional level. Make your product so it solves their basic needs and then helps cover their wants.

Instead of shoving something down their throat through “buying” as much airtime as you can, why not spark a conversation? You can let them know you understand their needs in one spot(landing page, banner, tv commercial, online video, radio spot, did I miss anything?). In sales this is called exposing their “pain”. Get them emotionally involved and then you can “market” to them. As a follow-up spot show them what you have done/created that can “take away” their pain. Monitor the feedback you can see openly in the social media and shopping review sites. Then start the process all over again.

I tell my three children on a regular basis God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. You should listen twice as much as you speak. As Marketers we should take that advice to heart especially with all of the free “market analysis” and “market research” available online through social media and “word of mouth”.


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