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Listening: The New Path of Branding Your Business

Brand Management in the New Era 

During the past decades, brand management has evolved from a close structure to an open structure. The growing level of groundswell activities has made transparent marketing the new trend in the field. Consumers no longer take a passive role in making purchase decisions. With new technology options, they are encouraged to engage, demand information, and push for value. Nowadays, the onus is on the market but not the company to promote the value of a brand. As a result, listening in the groundswell becomes very important for companies to survive and success in the market, both offline and online.

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Listening to Your Market

Who to listen? There are lots of voices in the groundswell. For companies, the best sources of information come from customers, prospects, and competitors.

Customers: The existing customers will always be the most important research targets of companies because they have in-depth knowledge of their products and services. And companies can generate their feedback and turn them into novel business methods.

Prospects: This group is within the identified market segment of companies. So far, these people have not purchased any product or service that companies offer at present. Yet, by learning and engaging the inactive group, business can open up new opportunity in the market.

Competitors: Knowing the similarities and differences between the active players in the industry and the market helps companies discover the best way to position their products and services.

Where and How to listen? Companies adopt two strategies of listening to gain continuous insights from these market participants through 1) managing a private community, and 2) conducting brand monitoring.

Developing a platform for private communication enables companies to capture more insights for running their business.  As an advantage, this method automatically narrows down your audience into focused groups without missing out important information as most community members are individuals who have interest with the discussed topics. By interacting with these people, companies can easily find out hidden problems of their products and services and help spring novel ideas into existence.

Another option is to hire consultants to listen to the groundswell on your behalf, and have them summarized the findings for you.  This is called brand monitoring. The major benefit of this approach is that it ensures companies to receive all the relevant information.  Groundswell experts filter out representative information from various sources and offer customized reports to companies consistent with their industry types.

In summary, listening to the groundswell can help companies achieve the following objectives:

  1. Find out what your brand stands for
  2. Understand how buzz is shifting
  3. Save research money; increase research responsiveness
  4. Find the sources of influence in your market
  5. Manage PR crisis
  6. Generate new product and market ideas

 

Create a Listening Plan for Your Company

As listening is the starting point and an important component to position your brand image into the mind of your customers, companies need to develop the listening plan carefully. To begin with, companies select an optimum way to interact with their customers, introducing the listening programs to their customers and employees. These programs will be led by people who have experience and passions in the area with support from the top management. And “Over time, listening will become a responsibility that is spread throughout an organization” (Li, & Barnoff, 2011).

As an example, the video below briefly talks about how business can reinvent its brand using social media:

 

References:

Li, C. & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business Review press
WebProNews. (2011, November 5). Reinvent a brand using social media [Video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FT_sOC34BlM