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Intelligent Performance Marketing

Listening: The Best Marketing Strategy

By Sal Conca

Each week, the NetX media team gets together to discuss best practices, and this week’s topic was Strategy. Strategies are huge and take lots of time from prepping and planning, analyzing data and coming up with BIG IDEAS.

As an agency, we pride ourselves in being a strategic partner for our clients, and as we all know, sometimes that may be easier said than done. I think many agencies are good at problem solving but the problem with that is it means there is already a problem – or at least one that your client has brought to your attention that needs to be fixed ASAP. Overall, that type of mentality creates a reactive corporate culture instead of a proactive one.

If you truly want to be strategic for clients, you need to listen. Many of us listen with the intent to answer and may already be thinking of possible solutions before the other person has even stopped talking. When we do that, we generally don’t hear the whole story. I had been guilty of this for years. Some of the most successful meetings I’ve had recently are ones where our clients do most of the talking. Power point presentations are great but if you didn’t take the time to understand your client’s needs and real problems prior to putting it together, the presentation may never address anything they want to talk about. Sure, it may have fancy graphs and even show how you’ve increased sales in the past and how you’re going to grow revenue even more, but maybe that’s not all they care about.

Take for instance a client where getting approval is difficult, even for opportunities that cost a minimal amount. We thought we had presented opportunities that met their objectives including efficiency and customer targets, but nothing was pushed through – even during important peak seasons. After a little digging and careful listening, we learned that while the opportunities made sense, we needed to provide additional information and help educate internal client teams on the importance and financial impact – both cost and expected revenue – of the opportunities. Through listening, we can now plan and present new opportunities appropriately, and the overall strategy becomes a win-win for everyone.

So if you really want to be strategic, listen and listen intently. Strategic planning is about more than just producing an effective ROI for clients. It’s a partnership that requires give-and-take, and it starts with listening to your clients’ goals and problems. You may discover that what you originally thought they wanted to hear wasn’t the most effective strategy after all.

What are some marketing strategies that work for you?