Further to my last post about the Small waves vs the Big Splash, überblogger Seth Godin links via Tim Manners to an article in FastCompany by the CEO of Jones Soda, Peter van Stolk.
Godin highlights van Stolk's realisation that:
"You're not listening to your customer when you tell them, 'You need me.' You listen to your customers when you say, 'You really don't need me.'"
This is the big conundrum of corporate responsibility and marketing. It runs counter to everything marketing has stood for. What van Stolk argues, though, is that you focus on those who really want your product and spend less time trying to please those who don't. To do this he builds a deeper relationship with the customer. And to do this, you have to listen to them.
His observations on listening to customers is a pertinent to CR folk as it is to brand and marketing managers:
If you're able to give your customers the ability to give you info and you listen to them from their perspective, not everything they say will make sense. Not everything they do will be right. But you will know more about what you have to do based on the info you have. Because it's one component, but very critical component.
Focus groups are toilet paper: They're only used to cover your ass. You can get a focus group to tell you anything you want. When we do focus groups, tastings really, we have two choices: Does it taste good, or does it taste like crap? Yummy or crappy? Good or bad? It's not rocket science. And you get really good information. You have to be careful to make a distinction between getting the answers you want and honest answers.
That way trust is built. It's really very simple.
Link: Jonesing for Soda.