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Before Someone Listens To You, You Have To Listen To Them


You have to listen to your audience to help them mould what works (or what doesn’t).

It is easy to take the stance that your opinion matters. However, the only thing that you have is an opinion where you believe that people will notice, so you keep on with the same noise in the hope that people will believe.

It’s what we’ve always been used to, to spout what we think people want. Google Trends proves this by highlighting that we’re more focused on what we say rather than the need to listen.

Next year promises the delivery of more content (according to this weeks Content Marketing In The UK 2017 report from the Content Marketing Institute), but how much of that is delivered after gauging the feedback of others, rather than delivering what you think people want?



Many people are still locked into keyword searches and web stats to gain knowledge and to listen in. Are we still more comfortable to lie on the sofa rather than just ask people?




Who Is Listening In?

Before someone is ready to listen to you, you have to listen to him or her.

On both sides of the Atlantic this year, this is the stance from both Trump and the Brexit ‘out’ vote. They were the only ones listening to people who were disillusioned with the status quo.

Nobody wants leadership from a misogynist or a racist, but when decisions were made on no one listening, if someone is ready to take the side of what people want (whether it is delivered or not), things change.

Back in July was proof in the UK that if you don’t understand or listen to your audience, you will never have the influence to make change. The voices of Benedict Cumberbatch, Patrick Stewart and Keira Knightly did not represent the view of everyday person. Why not read the article when you totally forget your target audience.

Meanwhile in the US Trump gauged the levels of intensity via the content he created on Twitter, to see how the reaction was received. Once it struck a chord, the levels were raised.

According to data scientist Dr. David Robinson, from Stack Overflow, who performed a statistical analysis of Donald Trump’s tweets during August, highlighted that the ability to tweet like an ‘entertainer’ meant he was able to garner the ‘interest’ of the American people.


What About You & Your Business?

Committing to listening means you have something to contribute.

I discovered this last week, when I invited every person who has been to the You Are The Media Lunch Club to take part in a short survey.

It was set it up via Survey Monkey (useful free tool to use). Seven short questions intended to take less than a minute.

The intention was to see what people think. It was controlled, the page is not on the live site and was only sent to those who had spent a lunch, as opposed to a free for all on Twitter/LinkedIn.

Everyone that received the email on Friday was familiar with the subject matter.

The intention was to garner feedback to next years Lunch Clubs being more focused or alternatively something where interest was waning and not make it so frequent.

Some key findings stood out:

  • people are looking for a strategy to implement within their business. Whilst it is good to get out of the office for an hour or so, those who are serious are looking at investing with their time to make an approach work. A good distinction between networking when it’s fishing in an empty pool, contrasted to developing an understanding where the guests become the glue.
  • People want to put themes that are discussed into practice within their own business. There has to be a time and value exchange for this to work. The opportunity is to facilitate this for others.
  • When something has a flow, people are more willing to participate. This is how a community builds, where people feel a part of what you do, not just how you do it.

If you would like to see the response to the You Are The Media survey, click here.


Shallow Listening & Active Listening

There is a distinction between spurring into action or just a case of ticking boxes.

Here is an example of both. Shallow listening is when there is lack of motivation, with the only goal to create a fake façade that you care.

When another company is not going to respond to you on email or the phone call that goes nowhere, we take to Twitter and the response rate is on another level.

I have used Twitter as my tour de force on a few occasions this year and see that the only reason customer services are happy to put on the forced mateyness is to get you off Twitter using their handle as quickly as possible, so more people don’t get to see a message. Proof that news of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience.

The opposite of shallow is active listening. It is a form of evaluation. I could just continue the Lunch Clubs as they were, but I realise that if you don’t evaluate, you can never move forwards. Being able to listen helps you inform future decisions. Interaction matters.

From looking at the recent survey results, one of my goals for next year is to create sessions in 2017 where the focus is to take elements mentioned during the Lunch Clubs and create dedicated half day sessions to enable small businesses to put into practice (if you come, don’t come, or just want to find out a bit more, click here).

Whether you are looking to build a long relationship with customers or subscribers who take on board your angle of approach, you need to give people a reason to believe.


A Big Brand Example

Giving someone else a reason to believe is something that Nokia lost.

Before the iPhone came out in 2007, the world was a good place for this brand. They commanded the mobile phone market with a 49.4% dominance (well, we all remember playing Snake). After that, they went into freefall and did not make any further dent within the mobile phone industry. In September 2013, they were sold to Microsoft.

It was Finland’s most beloved brand. In a LinkedIn post (by Ziyad Jawabra), he highlighted that Nokia did nothing wrong, they just refused to learn and listen in.

“They missed out on learning, they missed out on changing, and thus they lost the opportunity at hand to make it big. Not only did they miss the opportunity to earn big money, they lost their chance of survival.”

Interaction with people who have invested time with you, is worth its weight in gold. In the words of Steven Covey (author of 7 Habits Of Highly Successful People), “most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.”


Lets Round Up

The cues for feedback are all around us, to tune into. It lets us respond and plan to what we hear, act upon and review.

Whilst we are now very much in a world where presenting our standpoint to others is more accessible than it has ever been, sometimes it is just as important to turn the megaphone around instead of pointing out to everyone and anyone within reach.

If we can foster stronger cooperation, understanding and stronger ties, then taking some time out to ask ‘how we doing’ can become a key component in the toolbox, rather than wholly relying on analytics tools. Interaction will always matter.

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