PR Pro Vital Skills: Listening to your Target Audience

Most companies only hear what their customers are saying. The real trick is to LISTEN to what they’re saying.

Target your customersNot sure what the difference is? Ever been trapped in the car with someone who won’t stop talking and you spout out, “I hear ya!” just so they’ll be quiet? There’s a reason why you don’t say, “I’m listening to ya!” It’s because you weren’t really paying attention.

And that’s what a lot of companies do: they hear, but don’t pay attention. They don’t actually listen. But listening is one of the most vital things you can do in public relations. Your target audience has many things to say, too, so not listening can be hazardous to your business health!

What They’re Saying

The messages you could be receiving from your customers can be anything from simple “you’re awesome” praise to complicated issues you must deal with in order to stay in business. If you think you can ignore any of them, think again!

For example, even a small “you guys are great” message includes some details you can use to better your company. This is what I mean by really listening to your customers instead of just hearing them.

An average business person hears “great company!” A better than average business pro understands there’s something deeper going on. That customer took time out of their day to tell you what a great job you are doing. That means something!

There’s a reason why that customer feels so strongly about your business. What it is remains to be found out by you. But really listening to them can reveal what your people respond to and can help you sell your product more efficiently.

Where to Listen

You don’t have to wait around for your customers to talk to you, either. In fact, it’s probably better if you head out where they are and find out what they’re thinking!

Of course you’ll want to use social media to interact with your customers, something you more than likely already do. But don’t stop there. Set up a few informal polls on your website, asking basic questions regarding your business. How well are we doing? Where have we fallen short? What is one simple thing we could change?

People will respond. They’re opinionated and not afraid to express it, so give them the chance. Some of the answers you get may surprise you, and can lead to better business practices. But this is only possible if you really listen!

Do you ever catch yourself “hearing” and not “listening?”

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download your free copy of the Beginner’s Guide to Writing Powerful Press Releases here:

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