Small business marketing: How deep listening transforms content - The Write Idea

Small business marketing: How deep listening transforms content

By Renae Gregoire

Small business marketing + deep listening = better marketing content  

You know the feeling that comes over you when you see or hear something transformative? When something about life, love, or small business marketing stops you in your tracks, and becomes, at least temporarily, all consuming?

You can't think of anything else.

You feel compelled to share this new thing.  

You want others to experience the same feeling of transformation that came over you.

That's how I'm feeling right now.

How you feel when you get a great marketing idea

My heart is soaring.

I'm excited, overflowing with new levels of insight and understanding I can use to help my clients so that they, in turn, can better serve their prospects and customers.

That's why I'm writing this blog post -- to share with you what I discovered, a "Eureka!" moment that grew stronger and stronger as I listened to a podcast episode by Tara Brach, founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC

The episode is called Listening to the Song, Part I

Part I?!?

Although I can't wait to get to Part 2, I need restrain myself ... hold off a little ... to tell you what I learned in Part 1.

Listening for the heartbeat of your prospects and customers

Although it doesn't do the episode justice, here's the blurb about the episode (emphases mine):

Listening is more than a communications skill, it is a capacity that awakens our awareness. As we learn to listen inwardly, we begin to understand and care for the life that is here. And as we listen to others, that same intimacy emerges. In this two-part series we examine the blocks to listening and the practices that cultivate this essential domain of human potential. Our focus is both on the transformational power of listening in our personal lives, and also the necessity for deep listening if we are to bring healing to our wider society. [Like, maybe, our prospects and customers?]

 While listening to this episode, I gained personal AND marketing insights. A boatload of both. The latter is what I want to share with you today: the marketing implications of listening, really listening, deep listening.

People must feel heard before they'll listen

Want prospects to really hear you? To hear the intention behind your brand, and behind your products and services? Then you first need to hear them. You need to hear your audience.

So much of marketing is talking AT people:

  • Lookie here at what we've created! (Read in the voice of Biff from Back to the Future.)
  • We offer the best service; you won't get service this good from anyone else!
  • Our product gives you 10 amazing features, features you won't find in competing products.

What would happen if the marketers or writers who create such content listened first? 

If they listened, they'd know what their audience was thinking and feeling, what pains and challenges were causing pressure. And they'd be saying things more along these lines:

  • Does thinking about your shrinking profit margin give you a knot in the middle of your chest? Does that knot keep you up at night? 
  • Your company is growing. The pressure is mounting. “Fill positions faster!” “Interview more quickly!” “Bring in better candidates!” 
  • Just starting with aerobic septic tanks? Have one or two molds in production? Unhappy with your current supplier? Produce and sell our popular septic system.

To get at that kind of content--content that doesn't just jabber AT readers--takes deep listening.

As Tara says in her podcast: 

Listening is the forerunner. If we don't listen to the pain within and around us, we can't respond.

"The forerunner to what?" you might ask. The forerunner to great marketing content.

Great marketing content converses with readers

When you listen deeply, you're able to hear the conversations going on inside your prospects' heads while they interact with your brand and its content. And if you can HEAR clearly, then you can RESPOND appropriately, with sincere empathy and care.   

Let me give you a few examples.

If your prospects are thinking along these lines:Then your content should respond
by saying something like this:
I’ll never finish this project!Unfinished projects weighing you down?
I can’t believe I lost that note — and another job!Say goodbye to capturing--and losing!--important thoughts and ideas on napkins and scraps of paper.
Why does payroll have to be so difficult?Tired of tangling with payroll?
I don’t have time to organize this event!Spend one hour with us, and we’ll organize your event from start to finish.
Our content sucks; we just don’t have a solid writer in the house.Embarrassed by the state of your content?

See? It's like a conversation.

Your audience feels terrible; you let them know you understand.

Your audience never wants to run into THAT problem again; you communicate in your content that your process eliminates the issue.

Your prospects wonder what the differences are between vendors; you provide a helpful chart that outlines the differences between vendors.

You empathize.

The secret to success in marketing: Empathy
If you're not listening, you still care ... just not enough

The alternative to empathy, to deep listening, is that you care ... just not enough. And when you don't care enough to listen deeply, to empathize, then you wind up with the Biff-style content that's all about you-you-you and what you have to offer.

A lot of marketers and writers specialize in Biff-style content, which is why the Internet is filled with so much crappy content. It's why so much marketing content falls flat. It's why, when you look at Google Analytics, you see that most visitors quickly abort their stays on your site. It's why leads aren't flowing and sales are sad.

My friend, I assure you: When you listen deeply to what's going on with your prospects and customers, and communicate back to them that you see them, hear them, feel them, GET them, then your content will be loads ... heaps ... bunches better. 

Then, with better content, you can begin to build relationships and earn trust.  Then, you can you being to lead more people to YES.

P.S. How do you listen? How do you hear? It's simple. Just ask your prospects and customers what they're thinking and feeling, using surveys, interviews, and research -- a topic for another post.

Join my tribe?

Do you sweat the small stuff? Do you want your online presence to inspire trust and confidence? Do you grit your teeth when others don't care enough about YOUR web experience? Are you all about creating an excellent website and excellent content that makes it easy for people to get to know, like, and trust you and buy your stuff?

I think we might be soul mates. And I'd love for you to join my tribe.

When you do, I'll alert you to new blog posts, new programs and products, and new ways for you to create excellent, frictionless, online experiences that lead more people to YES! I promise to be relevant and real, and to send only thoughtful content and advice.


Thoughtful content. Real-world advice. Enter your details to get the next issue when it's ready.


About the Author

Hi! I'm Renae Gregoire, a digital conversion expert improving the performance of digital marketing content, including websites, landing pages, sales pages, online courses, blogs, and email sequences. If you're a coach, consultant, or other expert having trouble getting people to click, sign up, subscribe, or buy, I can help. My work typically involves a blend of strategy, design guidance, and wordsmithing, with a heavy focus on how your materials look, sound, feel, and function—all from your reader's perspective. Contact me to see how I might be able to help improve your conversions.