Marketing has always been a mixture of art and science. There are exact elements that makes marketing more manageable, such as metrics, tracking and research. On the other hand, there are also elements that can only be mastered when you know how to understand people and think outside the box. Understanding consumer decision making processes is a good example of how marketing is about thinking creatively.
There are plenty of ways you can improve your skills as a marketer. In this part, however, we are going to focus more on the rather unusual methods you can use to better understand your customers. Let’s get started, shall we?
Socialize and Observe
There are certain details that surveys and research cannot capture. The way customers decide what to buy when shopping online or how price differences affect that decision, for example, aren’t always apparent in survey results or market research data. To fully understand the market segment you’re targeting, sometimes you have to go out and socialize.
Talking to people directly can bring a lot of insights that are otherwise lost in survey questions. Take the time to go out and meet new people. Ask natural questions and listen closely to the way they answer (and the answers they give). It doesn’t have to be a particularly complicated setup. In fact, a causal conversation over coffee can bring out the best insights compared to a formal interview.
Don’t forget to also spend time observing. I personally love sitting in the mall or somewhere crowded and watching other people go about their business. The way they shop, the way they interact with advertisements around them and even how they interact with smartphones and other devices are always fascinating to see.
Go Back to School
A colleague recently completed his masters in social work online, even though he is building a prominent career in marketing. I can understand the reasoning behind his pursuit of an MSW online degree: it is to develop his ability to understand others as well as himself.
Pursuing a degree in a non-marketing field is always a good idea. Top universities such as Rutgers Online are making it easy for full-time professionals to pursue master’s degrees in various fields. There are plenty of MSW online programs to choose from, along with programs in other fields.
The extra skills and knowledge you will pick up while completing the course can be handy in marketing. The MSW programs online universities are offering, for example, can help you develop empathy, the ability to understand others and greater self-awareness.
Learn from Other Marketers
There are many reasons why I write books and articles on a regular basis. Chiefly, though, I want other marketers to have that ability to learn from my successes and mistakes. Learning from others is a crucial part of becoming a better marketer.
Don’t hesitate to attend seminars or read books. More importantly, don’t hesitate to connect with other marketers directly and learn from them. You’ll be surprised by how much you can learn from industry experts and marketing practitioners.