“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
– Epictetus, Greek Philosopher
There are few brands out there who heed Epictetus’ advice, but for those who do, there are many benefits to listening. Not only does it provide an opportunity to gather information whilst also deepening understanding of a person, a subject or a moment, but the ability to listen also has profound effects on the health of relationships once established.
Using listening skills to establish and develop relationships is becoming ever-more important if brands are to win loyalty from an increasingly over-optioned, not to mention, fickle, consumer. It is only through listening – and taking the time to understand what they hear – that brands can change and grow symbiotically with their customers. This will not only ensure continued relevance and responsiveness, but also that people know that the brands they buy genuinely care about their feedback. This also helps brands appear more human and approachable (note: easier to become loyal to).
In many ways, the advertising industry was founded on the premise of one-way communication. It helped brands come up with new ways to get their message across, giving their audience little option but to listen. But now it’s 2015 and the tables are turning. Increasingly, brands need to listen twice as much as they talk if they are to stay relevant to their consumers, and one step ahead of their competition.
Talk less, listen more
Social networks, social listening tools, consumer research, focus groups, satisfaction surveys and peer-to-peer reviews mean that brands now have more ways to listen than before. A cautionary word however – brands must not fall into the ‘all the gear but no idea’ trap. They may have access to everything they might possibly need in order to listen, but it takes skill to listen properly and know how to respond.