Where did marketing miss the boat?

Attendance was half of what was expected. The new website didn’t make the phone ring. The new tagline or logo or color combination hasn’t made the development of new business any easier.

You’ve tried LinkedIn and micro-sites. Maybe even Twitter and (gasp) Facebook.

You’ve revised profiles, and have great new photos.

You’ve written brand-spanking new practice descriptions (carefully modeled after what the successful competition uses). And you’ve invested in high-priced SEO.

You speak and sponsor regularly.

Still, no one comments on (or even seems to know about) your blog.

And the revenue needle has barely budged.

What went wrong?

One Possibility

Maybe things went awry when we decided to invest in everything except the identification of what our target audience cares about most.

Somewhere, somehow we began to equate marketing with messaging, publicity, events, and — at its best — the employment and execution of creative genius.

Maybe things went a bit wrong when we started to plan and invest as if simply articulating who we are, what we offer and all that we’ve accomplished is all that it takes to move a target in our direction.

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 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 experiences, concerns, aspirations — we should not be surprised when the market barely moves in our direction.

What If We Listened First?

What might happen if, for a season, we invested in innovative listening? What if we found a way to lend an all-hearing ear to our clients/customers/targets? (Caution: perfunctory satisfaction surveys do not count.)

This isn’t half-listening-half-scheming; it isn’t something we fake, while believing we already know what is best for the market.

This is Intentional Listening.

It employs the creative (and opportunistic) resources of the mind’s ear, with one objective — to learn. 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 and business development efforts.

And here’s the payoff. Your targets highly value intentional listening. Build it into your efforts, and the market will reveal what it cares about, what it is searching for, and what it takes to sew the seeds of loyal, enduring relationships.

Armed with this kind of baseline information, we might surprise even ourselves with the impact creative and innovative marketing and business development efforts have on the bottom-line.