How to Market Your Business When You’d Rather Be Listening More Than Talking

Some of us have the gift of gab. Others have an aptitude for acuity.

For those who would rather be listening, taking it all in, and gathering information, marketing your business can seem especially challenging. The same old tactics that work for those who have no problem talking, broadcasting, and sharing what they do openly, don’t necessarily work for those who actually connect best with others quietly.

While challenging, marketing actually holds a huge opportunity for listeners.

When you market your business as a listener, you can show your customers you really understand them, see them, and have the ability to help them.

Listening is powerful: why great marketers are great listeners

Marketing is connecting.

Marketing does not equal promotion. Of course, reading most information on marketing today, you’d never know that. Marketing is a nuanced and complex aspect of business—but it boils down with making connections with prospective customers, nurturing those connections into relationships with your brand, and then formalizing that relationship with a sale.

We all have different ways of connecting. Some people do really well on stage or at a networking event. Others do really well telling stories or relating one-to-one. As a listener, you have a unique set of conditions for connection.

Me? I’m an observer. I’d actually prefer to watch and listen, instead of participating. I observe until I have something to say; and, when I finally do have something to say, I prefer to do it with a platform—a stage, an email list, an interview. I pretty much hate not being in charge. #truestory

You might do really well in personal, intimate exchanges. You might take more of a therapist’s role, asking probing questions and formulating your insights over time. Or you might intuitively perceive the situation and be able to respond quickly.

This quality of listening and gathering substance is what Sally Hogshead calls Mystique, one of the 7 triggers of fascination in the Fascination Advantage System.

In the year I’ve been testing my clients using Sally’s system, I’ve noticed that at least 1/3 of the people I work with test high for Mystique. That means that they carefully curate their communication, are highly observant, and tend to work independently. They read between the lines, maintain composure when things get intense, communicate with purpose, and find insight where others don’t.

Sally writes, “Mystique [personalities] might not dominate the conversation, but they can dominate the winner’s circle.”

Does that sound like you? I can assure you you’re in good company.

Marketing is listening, too.

The key to creating compelling marketing as a listener is to actually put all that great listening and perception to good use.

Mirror back your customers’ experiences. Acknowledge their pain or frustration. Reflect back to them their sincere aspirations. And do this anywhere you want to show up: Facebook, your blog or email list, Instagram, your sales pages, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc….

Demonstrate that you’ve been listening.

In many ways, marketing as a listener is about (creating and) holding space. When you market as a listener, you’re creating a container for others experiences. Your website, your social media, and the experiences you create can each hold space for how your customer is experiencing the world.

Heather Plett (who may or may not appreciate me making this connection) recently wrote about holding space—in a listening-as-marketing blog post that went completely viral:

A wise space holder knows when to withhold guidance (ie. when it makes a person feel foolish and inadequate) and when to offer it gently (ie. when a person asks for it or is too lost to know what to ask for).

What you do as a marketer should empower the people you’re marketing to. The solutions you create should allow your customers to trust themselves. The sales conversations you enter into—whether leveraged through email marketing or made intimate through one-to-one conversation—should give your customers the power.

When your customers feel their own power—and have the space to exercise it—they will be more focused on what you are offering them.

Who are expert listeners-as-marketers?

Danielle LaPorte has amassed a large community of followers by channeling the white hot truth she perceives beyond the inner thoughts of her audience. If you think of her as a digital priestess, it’s because that kind of leadership comes from perception, not control.

Seth Godin posts on his blog every day. But every day, it’s an insight that resonates deeply with the experience of the people who populate his world. His mantra of product development—“Here, I made this for you.”—is a testament to the opportunity listeners have.

Tina Fey (a creative role model of mine) is also a listener and perceiver. Watch 5 minutes of 30 Rock or The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and you’ll see just how much she’s been listening. Joke after joke, reference after reference, she packs her comedy full of always smart, sometimes wacky perception.

Finally, StitchFix is a great example of a business that uses listening as its key marketing and value proposition. There was a running joke at CreativeLive that anytime someone would ask where part of my outfit had come from it was StitchFix. StitchFix is a personal styling service that sends you 5 items about once a month personally picked for you. You fill out a style profile, link your stylist to your Pinterest board, and send them notes about what you want or need (my recent box was geared to my trip to Cancun next week for What If Conference).

With each box, you give your stylist more feedback so they get better at selecting your pieces. I’ve been incredibly impressed by what I’ve been sent. I feel understood—and a bit challenged. Which has led to some fun new articles of clothing in my closet!

Listening is an advantage.

In today’s commercial era, those who prefer to listen rather than talk are at a distinct advantage. You might not be able to follow all the same “rules” as the talkers, but combine your unique makeup with creative thinking and you have a recipe for truly successful marketing.

The next time you feel pressured to say something about your business, your launch, or your product take a minute to consider what you’ve perceived all this time you’ve been listening and use it to hook the attention of the people who truly matter.


Listening, observing, and creating resonance are the subjects of my new mini-book, The Observation Engine. Find out more.