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Listening is your best marketing tool.


We asked Green Hat friend Aryeh Sternberg, former ad tech innovation manager for News Corp and founder of Beyond Intent, to share the best B2B marketing advice he’s been given.  

At a recent industry event, someone asked me the one thing that a brand can do to improve its marketing content and increase engagement with its target audience. I thought about this briefly, and the answer was a single word.

Listen. “Listen to what people are saying, and listen to what they’re not saying.”

He looked at me quizzically, then asked me to elaborate. I told him that historical marketing has always been about formulating a creative message around one person or a creative team’s shared understanding about an audience, disseminating it out into the world and testing it (or not testing it) and then waiting for that single large audience group to respond.

With audience-based targeting and personalisation readily available, even digital is falling back on this “push” strategy.

In today’s world, there are simply too many data sources and too much data available from real people talking about how they feel about brands, about themselves, about everything. Brands cannot ignore this.

Community managers listen. Social media marketers listen. Personalised engagement and conversation have replaced one-way single-use messaging. Why does this evolving, growing and changing knowledge bank, this incredible hotbed of data, not make its way to larger marketing teams?

When we talk about ‘listening’, it’s not just about listening to what people are saying, it’s also listening for the pockets of silence which indicates a lack of engagement or interest, and can point to problems with the brand that are not apparent because there is no content directly pointing to a problem.

Many marketers use a variety of free and paid tools, social listening tools and search trend analysis, even tools that pull out patterns from published newsfeeds across the Interwebs.

This is a good start, and it’s up to the smart marketer to ask questions of the data they are reviewing.

Don’t just take keyword clouds as the end of the story, this is the start. Ask “why” something is showing up, and compare what you are seeing with the assumptions made by the creative or the marketing team and see if the messaging is eliciting the response that was planned (especially if sales aren’t resulting from those communications).

As my art teacher back in grade school used to advise us, “Stop, look, and listen.” The advice still stands!


Andrew Haussegger

Andrew is the CEO and a co-founder of Green Hat. He is passionate about customer lifecycle marketing, sales/marketing alignment, and automated operational effectiveness. He developed the 3C3P strategic marketing methodology that has been adopted by many bluechip B2B brands, and is a co-author of the annual B2B Marketing Research report.