Look Who’s Talking

Control freaks need not read on.  (You might not like this.)  But it’s time to let go of the core belief that companies know what will make their customers happy.

In the old days, a company could rely on the time-honored strategy of deciding what THEY wanted to sell and:

  • Develop it themselves.
  • Wait for someone else to develop it, then do it better.
  • Acquire it.

But now, add to that mix the voice of the customer.  “Customer is king” is the new normal, and customers get pretty huffy when companies don’t do what they tell them to do.

And if you’re going to invent, copy or buy, it makes sense to get counsel from the people you’ll be selling to.

The good news is that given the rise in sophistication of social media platforms, there are a variety of savvy tools to help you find out what the customer wants.  It does, however, take skill to sift through the conversation for gold nuggets.

In this interesting slide presentation by Spych Market Analytics LLC, managing partner Ben Smithee talks about using social media as a market research tool.  Smithee alludes to ways you can gather information about your industry—and your company.  And if you’re shy, you don’t even need to talk.  Just lurk.

But if you can create a following on Facebook, Twitter, blogging or otherwise, all the better.  Insert yourself as a trusted voice into the conversation.  And then, you can ask your customers what they want.

And guess what?  They’re dying to tell you.  In our 2008 report The Brave New World of Scientific Publishing, when asked “What is the most valuable aspect of social media as it relates to the purchasing process,” 43% of the respondents answered that it provides access to objective feedback on products and services from multiple sources.