This post is dedicated to anyone who has ever asked (or been on the receiving end of the query) where did our marketing go wrong?

And the answer is — perhaps it went awry when the priority became creating, producing and delivering the message as opposed to identifying the precise point at which you might connect with your target.

Somewhere, somehow we began to equate marketing with the execution of creative genius. We recognize it, reward it, hand out killer-awards for it, revere it. And sometimes, inadvertently to be sure, producing the message became the point.  We began thinking of the ability to articulate or produce as the only tools essential to moving a target audience.

Don’t misunderstand: I firmly believe creativity in all of its manifestations is a critical piece of the puzzle. Great copy, killer production value, insightful market segmentation and innovative media plans scarcely scratch the surface of essential creative components. But if the message doesn’t emanate from the kind of listening that precisely identifies the point of connection — shared experiences, concerns, aspirations — we should not be surprised when the market barely moves in our direction.

What might happen if, for a season, we invested in innovative listening? What if we found a way to lend our mind’s ear to our clients/customers/targets (as opposed to engaging in a profunctary exercise)?

This is the essence of Intentional Listening. It employs the creative (and opportunistic) resources of the mind’s ear to the fullest extent. This kind of listening is a relentless quest for common ground and points of connection.

Call it market research if conventional labels are more comfortable. By any label, this is the seed of success for our marketing efforts. Intently listen, and the market will reveal what it cares about, what it is searching for, and what it takes to sew seeds of loyal, enduring relationships.

Armed with this kind of baseline information, we might surprise even ourselves with the impact creative and innovative communication has on the bottom-line.