Listening And Measurement Is Useless Without Action

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The past few weeks, I have been writing about listening and measuring to learn what matters most to your audience. I’ve taken a look at my own startup CredHive.com as well as served as an active advocate for my clients about listening deeply to the customer conversation in your category. I am wildly passionate about connecting customers to brands and to do this, I think it is really important to know what customers want. To understand what a customer wants means you need to listen to understand and really know your metrics.

The net of both of these posts (and many of my earlier posts) are about advancing the customer relationship and adding value to the audience’s day. The goal of course is to help your brand stand out in the social and digital landscape by really studying what’s working, what’s not and where any existing white space may live. I think measurement and listening are incredibly efficient ways to do all of these things.

But, where I failed in those posts was to call out the fact that it is not about the insight, it’s really about the action you take BASED on the insight. Because insight without action is an epic waste of time. No amount of measurement or active listening matters if we refuse to do anything about it.

Congrats for having a belly button!

Knowing is one thing. Yay! We know what people are talking about in our category. Hooray! I can see where my drop offs are in the product. We must put on our brave pants and take action. Because if we don’t, well, that my friends is the very definition of navel gazing. And we are all occasional victims of admiring our own belly buttons for the sake of having a belly button.

From my vantage point, this is where a lot of innovation goes to die. It dies at the insight. Taking action is actually scarier than measuring and listening. It means you might have to tackle institutional norms. You may have to battle people internally. Your idea may be rejected. So, sometimes, it seems easier (read: safer) to point at the insight and say, “How cool is that?” and let it hang out there in the world being cool an ineffectual.

Go small or go home

But the insight is so easy and pretty. The white space in the conversation is so clear and clean. If we are to capitalize on this insight, we need to “Go Big or Go Home”. #No! This is one of the innovation traps that I like to avoid: Death by Detail (also see Death by Navel Gazing). The action you take does NOT have to be big and audacious. The action could be a tweak in messaging. It could be curating in content that positions your brand in the white space. It might be a small, easy feature on your site or blog. The action does not need to be a fully baked mobile app or a 50-page ebook. You might get there eventually, but remember, you cannot run until you can walk and you cannot walk until you run. Action can be really small. And let’s be honest, little actions are attainable.

Test and learn

Continuous improvement is a continual cycle of learning, measuring and building. We do this every day at SME Digital. It’s being Lean. It is learning, measuring and DOING something about what you are learning and measuring. It is the act of building that makes the cycle powerful. And it is most likely to be forgotten because it is really hard to build something that is small AND meaningful. But without it, it’s a lose-lose. You do not solve the customer’s problem and fail to stand out to them.

As beautiful as the insight is, it cannot benefit your organization if it goes un-acted upon. We are employed to bring value to the organization. As marketers, that means we should be focused on bringing value to our customers. Customers are THE measuring stick of effective marketing. How much they spend? How likely they are to spend again? Are they willing to refer their friends? There are nice measures of success. When we identify solutions to their problems through insights AND act on them, we all can win at a far greater clip.

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