ARF Listening Playbook – Seven Deadly Sins of Listening: Opinion

Steve Rappaport, Knowledge Solutions Director, Advertising Research Foundation recently outlined in the WARC Blog a number of ‘bad habits’ that diminish the effectiveness of listening to consumer-generated content.

The following is intended to serve as a complementary viewpoint founded on fact-based marketing research and CRM consulting:

ARF Deadly Sin #1. Checklisting: The practice of gathering vendor or software capabilities and features, and comparing them in fancy grids, which give the appearance of thoroughness.

4ScreensCRM: Vendor evaluation is important but can only be done effectively if mapped against client process and technology requirements. As a start, provide your client with a roadmap that outliness potential outcomes and various paths to those end points. This should help with the anticipation of possible futures and builds a foundation for the initial strategy.

ARF Deadly Sin #2. Questionable Rigor: Listening is an emerging research discipline with a variety of approaches, but without standardized industry practices or an extensive body of research-on-research to date. Given the newness of the field, this is to be expected and will change over time.

4ScreensCRM: Provide your client with a business case that includes parameters for listening. Clients appreciate the need to pilot net new initiatives using an iterative approach to learning. Taking time to know what the ‘black box’ of the Internet contains is prudent in regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals.

ARF Deadly Sin #3. Adding Listening to Staff Work: It is common for someone in the research department to be designated the listening guru. However, that individual is usually just starting up the listening learning curve and can be easily overwhelmed by multiple demands – learning a new field, implementing listening research, understanding the results and sharing them throughout the company, all while performing their day job.

4ScreensCRM: Provide timely outsourcing capabilities with the right skills sets and tools to match the clients requirements. This will enable the client to keep focusing on their core business (e.g. make and sell automobiles) while at the same time forming in-house expertise along the way.

ARF Deadly Sin #4. Collecting Everything: It is easy to be seduced by social media metaphors – “rivers of conversation” is one, and it leads to thinking that relevant conversations are everywhere and flowing.

4ScreensCRM: Direct your client to places (URLs) where there is meaningful and legitimate conversation about their brand. Advise your client on the appropriateness of CGM listening at it relates specifically to their industry vertical, product categoryand market segments. If you client’s brand is not one that generates organic online experiential discussion, be candid about the go/no go decision to engage in further listening.

ARF Deadly Sin #5. Relying on Observations: At a recent ARF Industry Leader Forum, Paul Banas, Kraft Foods’ Insights and Strategy manager, told us that “observations are facts without wings – they don’t take you anywhere.” What good is it to know that brand mentions were 45% positive over the last year? He made the point that insights inspire action, evoke emotion, are unexpected, and lead to leverage-able ideas.

4ScreensCRM: Good insight reveals opportunity for competitive advantage and considers which functional groups are best to own the action plan.  Point to areas that will deliver a quick hit vs. long term impact on the client’s business. Use proof points to reinforce the business case across the enterprise.

ARF Deadly Sin #6. Using The Wrong Measure to Evaluate Listening: We learned that many of the measures used to judge listening are better suited for analyzing social media campaigns. This is a classic instance of using what’s available, such as activity measures (e.g. clicks) exposure metrics (e.g. page views), engagement measures (e.g. time spent) and transaction counts (e.g. conversions).

4ScreensCRM: Develop metrics that are variations on marketing research measures.  Metrics can be cascaded in order to provide a ‘drill down’ and get to the underlying drivers of consumer sentiment (satisfaction, willingness to recommend) and mentions (undaided awareness) of brand attributes, physical or emotional as well as comparisons relative to competition. 

ARF Deadly Sin #7. “It’s Just Another Way To”: Saying listening is “like a focus group,” or “another source of insights,” may be the greatest sin of all because these phrases make it appear as if listening is just another technique with limited application.

4ScreensCRM: Adopt the view that listening is about extending the view of the brand into the broader customer universe and augments the client’s ability put themselves in their customers’ shoes. Authentic online conversation is organic where consumers self-select, actively participate and seek the opinion of like-minded consumers. Listening is a passive process to understanding unstructured and unscripted conversations not possible using ‘active’ survey research.

– TedMorris, 4ScreensCRM

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2 responses to “ARF Listening Playbook – Seven Deadly Sins of Listening: Opinion

  1. All good suggestions to convert sins into virtues.

  2. Steve, Thanks for reading and feedback. The ARF has always been instrumental in leading transformation in the Marketing Research or should I say, Business Insights industry.

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