Are You Listening Like Your Brand Depends On It? Because It Does

It’s a new year, and it’s a new frontier when it comes to marketing with content. And if your focus is on filling up the content calendar, you might be missing the point entirely.

“A lot has been written and tried with regards to content marketing, account-based marketing (ABM), and advertising in all of its forms,” writes Jennifer Davis of the CMO Network in Forbes. “New regulations, like GDPR, are sending marketers back to the drawing board to craft campaigns and mechanisms for communication with their customers and going into a new year, it is a good time to step back and think about the idea of relevance.”

To help sort it out, Davis introduces us to Drew Neisser, the founder and CEO of Renegade, and his solid advice to “listen like your life depends on it (because it does).”

As Neisser explains, we can’t really listen to what our customers are saying until we understand the reality of the disruptive competitive landscape. 

“That sense of urgency needs to inform how brands approach their listening activities. It needs to be a company-wide priority, not just the responsibility of one department,” Neisser advises. He recommends relying on your own research to help you understand what they are hearing, and what they need to hear from you. 

“Customer satisfaction surveys, brand health tracking, in-product rating, and social listening are table stakes,” he said.

Listening to your customers is one part of the equation. Next, you have to be brutally honest about your content and “ask whether it deserves to live.” 

“Sadly, most branded content is not cutting through,” Neisser observed. “With more than eight of 10 marketers embracing content marketing, the increase in blog posts, videos, emails, webinars, social shares, and podcasts, among other formats, has dramatically outpaced the hours in the day for actually consuming this stuff.”

Rather than try to keep up on volume, Neisser advises taking a different tack. 

“Rather than focusing on creating truly inspired content that is unique, engaging and imminently sharable, marketers become slaves to their self-imposed schedules, rushing out content that is of little interest or value to anyone,” he says.

This means as a brand publisher you must inspect and interrogate each piece of content for the value it brings to your audience. 

One way to do this, he notes, is by taking a “zig when others zag” approach and printing a magazine. 

“One expression is courage is to zig while others zag,” he says. “For instance, Airbnb recently sent me a travel magazine. I spent an hour devouring the fascinating experiences shared from cover to cover,” he recalled. “This magazine is a vivid expression of Airbnb’s unique promise to provide an immersive and indigenous travel experience.”

So before you fill up you content calendar with stuff that may or may not cut through, use your customer data to really understand what kind of content your audience wants to consume, and then go about delivering it the format that cuts through. This is where you brand storytelling moves well ahead of your competition.