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Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose, California. To say that I was blown away by all of the techniques, strategies, and tools for this very sophisticated vertical would be an understatement akin to saying that the CARS program is driving traffic. There were individuals with incredible knowledge, extensive backgrounds, and real world experiences that are delivering productive results in search and social media strategies all over the world in just about every industry. It was amazing!

With all of that technology however – all of the vendors, all of the strategies, and all of the real world experiences gave credit to first “recognizing and listening to your customers.” Your customers conversations matter most. What they’re saying is in many cases exactly what you should be doing to be most profitable. You’re trying very hard to drive your value and profitability in your respective market. Well, markets are conversations.

Here’s an example: you’re standing in line to get coffee for the team at your local Starbucks and you hear a customer talking to a friend about school starting again and she’s jumping through hoops running her children around town in the morning to a couple of different schools. Fortunately her older daughter will be driving soon. Okay stop! I know exactly what you’re thinking and I’d strongly recommend that you don’t go there – now is not the time for brandishing business cards for the up and can coming driver! Slow down cowboy! Yet an interesting question would be – are you part of the back to school conversations online or offline in your communities? Are you part of the drivers education and safety discussions online or offline in your market? How engaged are you in online discussions that aren't just about selling your products or services or managing your reputation? Does your website or social page(s) talk about your customers – what they do, or does it talk about you and what you do? It doesn’t have to be one or the other. It can be a very creative balance of both. Give – Take. Listen-Talk.

It takes a customer to give you the ideas and strategies to closely align with your market and thereby build the trust and loyalty that you’re craving. Listen to them. Remember that markets are conversations and the best thing that you/we can do is work to be part of those conversations. What happens then – since markets are conversations – is that you become one of the trusted parts of the market. It’s not hard, actually it’s not even new. It’s just easier and faster today. Here’s a link from Charlene Li (author of the Groundswell… read it!) that expresses some specifics that you can do to drive deeper online/social relationships.

Tags: Social, are, conversations, customers, listen, markets, media, to, your

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