I'm a few weeks into my work on the Daggett campaign and some of what I'm seeing here I think can give us some good insight into listening & really listening.
I made this first observation during the Motrin Mom controversy last year. I was one of the people who didn't think Motrin needed to react so quickly and pull the ads. And to hear the buzz build over that weekend & hear people complain that "it's been 24 hours and no one from Motrin has responded" was, in my humble but deadly accurate opinion, sort of ridiculous. As I said in my initial post, if it was about poison in Motrin, they needed to respond ASAP. But not reacting in 24 hours to people not liking their ad? I think that could've waited.
And it's interesting to see what people are most complaining about during the elections here in NJ are property taxes. It's not the only issue, but it's sure at the top of everyone's mind here in the state. Our team put out a plan to deal with property taxes last week. Not everyone agrees with them, but we were listening to what people were saying and trying to answer their concerns.
But, I've also spent time in one of our campaign offices and had people drop in to tell me what problems we needed to solve if we won the elections. Some of them were real concerns that impacted a great number of people and some of them were only impacting the person making the complaint. Sure it's a valid complaint for that person, but is it in the best interest of the campaign to try & solve every complaint?
And I think brands face the same challenge. How do you listen to every complaint without reacting to each one. And reacting is different then responding. We can respond to everyone without reacting to everyone. If we reacted to everyone who asked us to do something in our campaign, we'd probably never get anything accomplished.
On the other hand, when everyone's yelling to do something, well maybe you should be thinking about reacting. In NJ where everyone is concerned about how high property taxes are, it's probably a good idea to discuss actually plans for what to do. We did it, knowing that there were people out there who would pick apart every item. But the discussion needed to start somewhere and that what's we did. We're now reading all of the comments and seeing what people think. We're trying to be smart about listening and responding, but not necessarily reacting to every comment and suggestion.
That's the really tricky part today. You should always be listening to our consumers. The fact that people think we're living in such a great, cool time because now we can listen to our consumers show just how far off-base the ad industry is. Listening to consumers should not be seen as a great new strategy. Talk to folks at GM about what happens when you're not listening. Now they can come up with cars that get great gas mileage when for years they produced gas guzzling cars that people didn't even really like.
The trick is to learn when to react. When do you take that information that you gather and turn it into an action item? And when do you thank people for their thoughts and leave it at that?