Listening According to Groundswell

This week I read Chapter 5 in Groundswell. This chapter focused on the power of listening.  Obviously listening as a day-to-day term means understanding what another person has to say. From a company’s point of view, listening means understanding the customer. A lot of successful companies go above and beyond to not only understand their customers, but to change what customers might complain about as well. By using the technique market research, companies can get the inner scope about the demographic they are marketing to. For example, companies can find out the age range of their target customers, what products are popular within each group of people, what customers are satisfied with, what they aren’t satisfied with, etc. Companies invest millions of dollars into market research and go to great lengths to get the correct data that relates to their companies. A lot of “cynics will tell you that companies never listen to their customers” which is an unfair and a completely false statement (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 79).


Source: Marketing Research. [IMAGE]. Retrieved from

I currently work at the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation where I do fundraising for different hospital programs. I know for a fact that the Royal Alex invests a lot of money towards market research. That’s because we need to know the ideal people to contact for fundraising. We also keep different spreadsheets for different types of demographics which are based on age, if they’ve donated in the past, gender, if they’ve been to the Royal Alex, etc. That way, during a certain campaign we are able to contact the ideal customer. For example in May, we contact mothers in regards to the Lois Hole Hospital for Women. During June we targets fathers and males for prostate cancer research. Around Christmas time, we contact our previous donors because there is a higher chance of them donating again during this season. This way, we have a higher chance of speaking to customers that will actually donate. Something that we are always taught to do is to make a connection with the customer by relating to them. Talk to customers politely, and find a  topic to discuss other than fundraising. In addition, ask their opinions about the hospital and really listen to what they are saying. Show empathy. They are always likely to make a small donation if they feel that you’re are being sincere and genuine.

After I graduate with my degree, I want to pursue a career in accounting. There are a lot of different firms in Edmonton – some bigger than others. All these firms probably utilize effective market research so they can keep ahead of their competitors. There is a lot of severe competition between firms as well. How does a certain client choose between these firms? Price isn’t always the factor. It comes down to people. People who take their job seriously, have effective communication skills, hardworking, and genuine are those that get great clients as well. In addition, these firms also have great experts to comprehend market research and pinpoint the changes they want to make for the future. They really focus on what sets their firm apart from other competitors.

There are two main listening strategies that are outlined in Groundswell. The first one is to “set up your own private community” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 82). A private community has access to many different focus groups that a company can gain information from (Li & Bernoff, 2011). The second strategy is to start brand monitoring (Li  & Bernoff, 2011). This essentially means that a company should hire experts to monitor the Internet and other resources to give you the most up-to-date research abut current trends, latest news that can impact your company, problematic areas, etc (Li & Bernoff, 2011). The external company will monitor social media platforms (such as a competitor’s Twitter), blogs, news, etc. Regardless of which strategy a company uses, Groundwell outlines different ways to get started to listen well:

  • Find out what your brand stands for – How does your brand differ from competitors? What are your core competencies?
  • Understand how buzz is shifting – Are your competitors outperforming you? Why?
  • Save research money; increase research responsiveness – Have a continuous research budget and ask yourself why are these results occurring? What can we change to make our strategy better?
  • Find the sources of influence in your market – Who’s talking about your product/service? What are they saying?
  • Manage PR crisis –  Get to the problem before it gets to you first! Be proactive.
  • Generate new products and marketing ideas – Use reviews and opinions online to your advantage. Make changes according to what customers want to see!

(Li & Bernoff, 2011, pp. 93-94)

Lastly, Groundswell also outlines some listening plans – suggestions that can help you listen effectively. The first suggestion was discussed in my  previous blog post – “checking the social technographic profile of your customers” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 95). Some others include,  monitoring one brand instead of overwhelming yourself with multiple, making sure your listening team is well-trained, making sure a highly qualified and dedicated senior member is interpreting the info presented through monitoring (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pp. 95-96).


Source: Influential brands in Canada. [IMAGE]. Retrieved from

There are so many well known brands. How do they stay up-to-date about current market trends and competitors? Groundswell highlights the company Communispace (now known as C-Space) which supplies many private communities such as focus groups. Please view the video below on Youtube (since the owner has disabled it to be embedded on websites). It provides more information about C-Space’s vision and why collaborating with consumers is so important for market research. Did you know that C-Space works with many top-rated companies such as Coca-Cola, HP, Best Buy, Mattel, Fed Ex, etc. (We deliver customer inspired growth, 2016)?

This week’s reading emphasized the importance of listening, especially in the corporate world. I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts!



Influential brands in Canada. [IMAGE]. Retrieved from

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell – Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Harvard Business Review Press: Boston

Marketing Research. [IMAGE]. Retrieved from

MechanicaMade. (2013, July 13). Communispace Manifesto. [Video File]. Retrieved from

We deliver customer inspired growth. (2016). [Webpage]. Retrieved from


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s