Magazine article Marketing

Opening the Door to Customer Intimacy

Magazine article Marketing

Opening the Door to Customer Intimacy

Article excerpt

Getting close to your customers has quite rightly been identified as the major marketing issue of the moment. Open any marketing or business publication and you will read piece after piece arguing that customer closeness is not only the future of marketing, it is the future of business.

But it's one thing talking about it and another thing doing it. Most commentators are long on theory and short on practical examples, so here are five suggestions for understanding customers better.

* Break orthodoxy and run groups or face-to-face interviews yourself. Most marketers spend too little time talking and listening directly to consumers. Don't let research put barriers between you and your customers. Ask your research company to find you some real people and talk to them. Talk about the broad issue. So much research is related to pre-testing and marketing materials issues that often the texture of a brand, the role it plays in people's lives, remains untouched.

* Think in terms of consumer intelligence, not conventional research - most of it scarcely gives enough time to cover the issues in depth. We generally only reveal our innermost thoughts to people we know well. Most respondents are not aspiring to the Oprah Winfrey Show. Why should they bare their innermost feelings after only one and a half hours, including warm-up? Be prepared for sessions to last for chunks of the day, or longer. By doing this you give everyone time to think and have their say and generate real truths, not superficialities. …

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