What your customers are saying about your industry can be just as important as what they are saying about you. If you’re not tuned in to what the community is saying, this fact will show in your communications, your tweets, customer service, and ultimately, in your product.

How can you find out what’s inside your customer’s head? By listening. Surveys and focus groups are one expensive  way — but what about prospects? What about people who are not yet your customer, but you would like them to be?  Fortunately, this person is already giving you his opinions and ideas for free. I’m going to show you some ways to find them:

 

Google Reader:

  • This is a free service, linked to your Google Gmail account. Reader is an RSS reader that lets you read blog in a column format, and allows you to view simply the headline, and quickly open up the story to see what’s in the content, without going to the acutal blog.
  • Reader also lets you categorize your blogs into categories, making it quick and easy to pursue different trends.
  • You can also use Reader’s search button to find posts on a specific key word.

Google Alerts

  • This serve allows you to enter search terms, phrases, and URLs into a search profile. Google will then  send its search engine indexes for something new on the Web that matches your search.  Via settings, you can arrange to have these links sent to your inbox each morning.

Search.Twitter.com

  • Start by entering your company’s name and see what’s there. What did you find out? Don’t see anything? Time to start creating a buzz around your company.
  • Enter the name of your competition… what are they saying?

This little exercise should enlighten you to new blogs, and new sites that are relevant to your business. Keep your tabs on them, and make them part of your daily reading. Subscribe to blogs that are relevant, and read them. Then, begin slowly, and carefully, to offer your own opinion in the comment section… with a link to your own blog. Listen.. then invite them over to see what you have to say.

 

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