The famous line from the movie “Field of Dreams” became a philosophy, which was applied to many things, and especially to advertising and marketing efforts. From the very beginning of the advertising and marketing industry, messages were presented to customers telling them they had to have product X, Y and Z. After all, if advertisers didn’t tell customers about new products and present them as these shiny, new and improved items, how would they learn about them?
The industry was famous for feeding the public images and notions of what they needed to have—often telling customers what they needed became the norm; but did anyone care to listen to what customers said they needed?
Today with increased usage of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, information abounds on the information superhighway. People can—and do—sound off publically in forums when they are not happy or satisfied about a service or product. As a marketing professional, it is imperative to sit up and take notice. Word of mouth works both ways—it truly can make or break a business or product. By being proactive and listening to what a customer wants and needs, the marketing professional can get into their minds, how they think, how they approach the sales and buying process, and what ultimately will sway them to purchase your product or service.
By engaging customers and prospective customers in a dialogue about their needs, we can fully understand the “why” behind the need—even today’s youth don’t just accept “because I said so” as a reason anymore. As a society, we have all been developing as intuitive, reasoning thinkers, wanting more than a sound bite or a pretty picture to prove we have to have something. We want to know how this is important to us, how it will make life better. Add to that economic issues, and we all have learned to become more savvy in making purchasing decisions.
Building trust with customers and prospects is key—let’s face it, we’re all a little gun shy when we know we’re being pressed for a sale. The depiction of a shady used car salesman comes to mind. To meet the needs of today’s customers, we need to be educated about our market, our product and the needs of that target market. We need to be devoted to using that information to present the customer with the reasons why we stand above our competitor and use every means possible to present that information to a savvy, technological public who, within a few clicks of a mouse, is able to research on their own.
We can build it, but if the public doesn’t have trust or that trust is shattered by false claims, it will stand empty.