Marketing and Research Consulting for a Brave New World
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Jeremiah Owyang says it so clearly on his blog: “As Social Customers Become More Empowered, Organizations Must Have a Listening Strategy”

He continues” “As we approach 2010 planning, companies need a strategy around listening. Sadly, most companies, and their agency partners don’t know why to listen or how. He adds that the top stages require evolving the classic market research organization.

  • Social customers:  Yes, we live in an increasingly interconnected world.  Life has become an open-book exam where people can seek guidance from virtual friends in social media and effortlessly search through the accumulated knowledge of mankind for information.
  • More empowered: Control is passing from the marketing and media establishment to people. No longer is content and messaging exclusively marketer-generated. People have gained control in other ways.  People have more choice as the long-tail keeps getting longer for media and purchase choices. People, not the marketing and media establishment, are in control of scheduling, as video can be viewed on three screens, on demand, or time-shifted. It’s their choice. We now live in a real-time world where the newsroom at CNN monitors Twitter for breaking news.

In 2006, Time signaled the change. Time’s “person of the year” was ‘you’ (the consumer, person, human).  Time’s rationale went like this:

…look at 2006 through a different lens and you’ll see another story…It’s a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It’s about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people’s network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It’s about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

And we now know that this was just the beginning.  Facebook has overtaken My Space.  Twitter came from nowhere.  Consumer sharing on Youtube created a Susan Boyle and blogging and twitter took down a big marketing campaign (like the 2008 Motrin misstep).

Listening reveals insights via social and open-book approaches.  Listening is about studying the change-makers (people) in a way that is native to how they are increasingly living their lives. We must learn how to add listening to our survey-based approaches for generating anticipatory insights.

Listening for the unexpected should be at the heart of the innovation process.  It takes research from the back end and places it squarely at the front end.  It says our role doesn’t kick in only when the marketing team is ready to “order up” a concept test, a commercial test, etc.  Our role is to anticipate the next move of consumers and to help the marketing teams turn that into innovation.  Take an example.  Currently there is a tiny share of newspaper reading that occurs on the Kindle.  If this was going to take off, wouldn’t the first signs be in social media comments and reviews and in terms people are searching on?

As Jeremiah says, marketers need to know why and how to listen. The ARF’s 2010 San Francisco conference on January 28th , “Putting Listening to Work” will be about Research Transformation and teaching you how to listen. Jeremiah Owyang will talk about his eight stages of listening organizational model. We will distribute and discuss our forthcoming book, “The Listening Playbook”.  Industry leaders from LinkedIn, Toyota, Microsoft, IBM, Saatchi and Saatchi Wellness and others will show how they have integrated listening into their organizations.

Welcome to a brave new marketing world!

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3 Responses to “Transforming research through listening”

  1. That is very true. I am also involved in development of software platform to “listen and learn” Customer Insights and rate products reputation, based on them.

    Is this ARF conference open to the public or one needs to be a member?

  2. The ARF conference on Listening in SF is open to all, but there is a registration fee. If you follow the link, you can see the agenda and registration details.

  3. A small clarification: We’ve titled it: The ARF Listening Playbook.