Listening, it’s the skill that every marketer should master.
There are various ways listening is integral to the craft of marketing. For one, being in tune to your audience and knowing what resonates with them means keeping your ear close to the ground. You have to listen to trends, to sentiments, to feedback.
Listening also means keeping yourself open-minded, hearing other’s ideas and opinions. It means learning to detach yourself from your closely-guarded beliefs from time to time, and looking at things from a different perspective. It’s the only way to stave off stagnation.
Nowadays, listening and keeping open-minded is easier. In an age of interconnectedness, you just have to mentally prep yourself to be receptive of new ideas; and you could easily encounter these though starters online.
TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) is one of the best online resources for ideas, with the multitude of viewpoints it houses in its library of free talks.
The whole organization is built on democratizing great ideas. It’s in its slogan: “ideas worth spreading.”
To help you out, here are 5 of the most intelligent, insightful, and inspiring TED talks that will widen your perspective as a marketer.
The Tipping Point, Outliers, Blink, if you’re familiar with these books (they were all on the New York Times Best Seller list), then author Malcolm Gladwell needs no introduction.
In his TED Talk, Gladwell shares the story of how psychophysicist and market researcher Howard Moskowitz changed consumer psychology by going against the notion of universality.
Using the case of spaghetti sauce, Gladwell tells of how Moskowitz eschewed a “one true formula” and instead embraced the diversity of consumer tastes by providing then-unprecedented multiple product variants.
Gladwell concludes that the sure way for brands to provide customers true happiness is to understand their needs and wants (some of which they don’t even know) and cater to those diverse segments by providing them with their respective ideal experience.
Even before the age of social media and influencers, author Seth Godin already posited that marketing can be less the product and more about leaders spreading a message.
For Godin, mass marketing—bombarding audiences with a mass of ads—is no longer applicable today and can even cause ad fatigue. The internet created silos of interest and connecting with these groups via good leadership is what makes marketing effective.
He cites the Beatles, Al Gore, and Hugo Chavez as examples. They didn’t cater to the masses. instead, they looked for true believers and, from there, their messages rippled out.
Today, the right influencers function as these tribe leaders. It’s not just about buzz, but actually cultivating trust between the leadership and their believers.
Though Malcolm Gladwell above talks about countering universality, Sheena Iyengar posits a counterweight. Yes, we should embrace consumer diversity, but we should also be wary of bombarding consumers with too many choices.
In her personal research, Iyengar discovered that consumers actually tend to purchase less when confronted with overwhelming choices.
The trick is simplification—sticking to your core. It’s great to cater to many audiences, but make sure to cut back on the noise and focus on what’s wanted and needed.
Daniel Schnitzer, at the time of his TED Talk, was the executive director of EarthSpark International.
Working in coal and kerosene-dependent Haiti, he advocated the distribution of cheap solar-charged LED lamps and energy-efficient stoves. The problem was, many Haitians were reluctant to make the switch.
Schnitzer discovers that marketing is also about understanding customers pain points. In the case of Haiti, it was a matter of accessibility—both physical and financial.
Schnitzer's message is this: you may have a brilliant idea or product, but the hard part is dissemination. Find the right avenues, find the right content, so that your message may resonate better with your target market.
Sarah Willersdorf of the Boston Consulting Group strikes parallels between attraction in dating and in choosing brands.
With today’s millennials having greater access, having more chances of connection, the key to growth is making consumers “fall” for your brand.
Just like online dating, you have to 1) be clear with your intentions, 2) give your target market what they want, and 3) be close to naked in simplicity (Willersdorf cites Tinder’s straightforward interface.)
As a marketer, you will always need new ideas in this ever-changing consumer landscape. Listening, learning, and application—this is the constant cycle integral to marketing. And hopefully, these TED talks inspire you to take action.
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