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Small Business Marketing Strategy & Ideas

March 2010 Issue --> Small Business Marketing Strategy & Ideas Article
A New Way to Listen to What Your Customers Are Saying About You
By: Dr. Jim Anderson

A New Way To Create Ads For Your Products

Welcome to the world of the 21st Century - there seems to be a new competitor who is trying to win the attention of your customers every day. What's a product manager to do? The answer lies in getting the message about why your product is better out before your potential customers in a way that connects with them. But how? Maybe the answer lies in what your existing customers are saying about your product...

How To Use This New Approach

For years now product managers have been told that we need to listen to what our customers are telling us in order to find ways to make our products better. However, nobody has ever really taken the time to tell us what we need to do in order to create product advertising messages that work.

With the arrival of the Internet, product advertising is yet one more thing that is undergoing a significant change. For the first time, the Internet gives product managers a chance to "eavesdrop" on what your customers are saying about their experience with your product.We often think about these types of customer conversations in terms of the negative things that our customers are saying - that's how we can discover what features need to be added to the next version of the product. However, it turns out that the positive things that they are saying can help us out also.

New technologies are becoming available that allow the big Internet to be scanned in order to collect all of the different things that are being said about your product. This information can reveal just what aspects of your product your customers are talking about ("I like the way that it feels in my hands") as well as what they are not talking about (what? No mention of the extended warranty that we debated about offering for two months?)

The power of this new approach to creating product ads is allowing your customers to determine what theme you end up using for your next advertising campaign as well as the words and images that you use. Even better, once you've launched the campaign, you can monitor the feedback and make changes to it in order to have an even greater impact.

Example: Harrah's Takes A Gamble

A great example of one set of product managers who are doing exactly this comes from the casino company Harrah's. Emily Steel has done some research on how they've been using these new tools.

She reports that Harrah's mined the customer comments that had been posted on the travel review web site http://www.TripAdvisor.com along with watching what was being said on Twitter and Facebook in order to determine how they should promote their hotel / casino. What they discovered is that their customers valued the views they could get out of their hotel windows as well has the amenities in their rooms.

Harrah's used this information to change the way that their web site looked as well as changing the types of information that they sent to prospective customers. Since doing this, they've reported that they've seen a double-digit increase in the number of on-line bookings for their properties.

What All Of This Means For You

Although this may seem like the way to go in the future, it turns out that you need to be a bit careful here. The people who are talking about your product already know about it. You will want to advertise to people who may not already know about your product. This means that things like focus groups and traditional market research are still an important part of what you need to be doing.

Ultimately, as a product manager you need to add this new technique for creating advertising that works for your product to your toolbox. It is yet one more way that the Internet is changing everything about the way that product managers do our job.

About the Author:

Dr. Jim Anderson has been a product manger at small start-ups as well as at some of the world's largest IT shops. Dr. Anderson realizes that for a product to be successful, it takes an entire company working together. He'll share his insights and guidance on how to make your products a fantastic success. Subscribe to the FREE Accidental Product Manager newsletter to get the information that you need to have a successful product and a successful career. Go here to get your free subscription: http://tinyurl.com/p4ru9d.
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