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Is Anybody Listening?

Is Anybody Listening?

As I prepare to lead a marketing workshop addressing technologists at Saturday’s Code(Her) Conference in Washington D.C...

What is the most effective marketing tool we aren’t using?

 As I prepare to lead a marketing workshop addressing technologists at Saturday’s Code(Her) Conference in Washington D.C., I will focus on the importance of language, engagement and embracing and broadcasting effective messaging when communicating how tech drives business growth and improves lives. 

However, I can’t help but give thought to the obvious, yet frequently overlooked tool for effective marketing and communication. For me, this tool works best as a precursor to embracing and broadcasting messages; I’ve faced disastrous results when leveraging it as a mere afterthought. It is the undisputed, winning technique for ensuring the best marketing strategy for any innovation. This tool is listening. 

Don’t just take my word for it. Below are examples of women in tech I admire for their marketing acumen, marketplace knowledge and their use of listening.

 Give these three modes of listening a try and see how they enrich your message and your perspective


1. Listening to the Customer

Karen Walker, Cisco CMO, champions redefining the marketing organization as an accountable and predictable revenue generator. One way she’s accomplishing this is changing behaviors between sales and marketing to ensure a spirit of partnership and equality. Another way to achieve this, according to Karen, is to ensure marketers augment their role in the customer journey.

In a Crimson Marketing podcast, Karen gives her thoughts on listening in the context of customer engagement.

‘The primary role of marketing is to make sure you’re listening and to make sure you’re amplifying the voice of the customer back into your organization.’


When marketers initiate this feedback loop, we contribute positively to business goals and the customer experience.


 2. Listening to the Marketplace

Shellye Archambeau is CEO of MetricStream, a firm focused on governance, risk and compliance. Earlier in her career, she served as CMO of Loudcloud, and co-authored the book ‘Marketing That Works.’

In her recent LinkedIn Pulse post, Shellye recommends keeping abreast of evolving markets, the competitive landscape and customer expectations.

 ‘Keep your fingers on the pulse of the market. Monitor social media conversations. Implement Google Alerts to track industry news and trends. Evaluate how these trends matter to your business, and how you can address them in line with your core vision and mission.’

Social monitoring or social listening enables marketers to anticipate trends and customer sentiment, and helps us measure how well we’re responding to changes in our tech ecosystem.

 Expect the role of social listening tools to continue to dominate the marketing discipline. The rise of the Chief Marketing Technology Officer (CMTO) position combined with predictions around CMO tech spend outpacing CIO tech spend all point to an exciting future for marketers who optimize social listening in the marketplace.


 3. Listening to Yourself

While she isn’t a tech marketer by trade, Kimberly Bryant, founder and executive director of Black Girls Code, has seen great success taking a more introspective approach to listening.

Kimberly studied engineering and frequently found herself one of a few women of color during her time at Vanderbilt University and throughout her career. Her 12-year-old daughter’s interest in engineering served as a wake up call of sorts, influencing her to respond to a marketplace need. She created Black Girls Code, to address low numbers of women of color involved in the computer science field. When Kimberly moved from biotech into the startup world, she saw a decrease in diversity, while at the same time her daughter became interested in gaming, according a TechRepublicinterview. 

‘That's when the issues came together personally and professionally. I didn't want [Kai] to be unmotivated and...feel like she couldn't learn these skills or thrive because of the attention she got in class.’

Armed with introspective listening- and the confidence that marketers are problem solvers by nature- we shouldn’t back down from the challenge of architecting solutions. When there is a critical gap in a marketplace or community, our resourcefulness is all we need to find the right people with the right skill sets to help us build the right solutions. I’m amazed at what my peers and I can accomplish when compelled by a strong personal connection, like Kimberly’s, to fill a marketplace void.

Listening is key to good storytelling


When we combine these modes -listening to clients individually, listening to marketplaces collectively and allowing introspective listening to take us beyond our comfort zones to fulfill a need – we become invaluable resources to organizations and communities that rely on us to tell the story of how new innovations are benefitting our businesses and lives.

As I kick off my Code(Her) workshop, I’ll remember that broadcasting a message is only a part of the story, and it should be preceded by listening to others. I’m looking forward to hearing about the situations, variables and people driving tech innovation.

What are your thoughts on how hearing from others has enriched your perspective? I’m listening…

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