Chapter 19

Listen to New Signals

Conversations are the raw materials of almost all listening research. Yet companies pushing listening's boundaries do more than listen to conversations; they also pay attention to the silent signals of behavior and emotions that potential customers offer. Observing what people do and understanding how they feel leads to insights that may be less apparent when we rely solely on what people say.

We caught a glimpse of behavioral listening in the Hennessy and Suzuki Hayabusa cases in Chapter 6, and again during the discussion on targeting in Chapter 16. Behavioral listening recognizes patterns or trends from observations or data, which become springboards for deeper investigation. For example, trends in Web site linking tipped Hennessy Cognac onto a hidden market of passionate African-American consumers. From a standard sales report, motorcycle maker Suzuki noticed that a substantial percentage of its high-end Hayabusa buyers were urban and multicultural, an unexpected finding that ran counter to its conventional target market notions of racing and performance enthusiasts. Each company followed up on the behavioral clues it received by conducting listening, ethnographic, and market research to refine its understanding and develop insights. Both brands completely revamped their marketing strategies with successful results. The key takeaway here: Companies must listen openly, without presumption or judgment, and avoid imposing their views. Dagny Scott, ...

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