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The “you first” approach to marketing

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Salespeople are trained to communicate their marketing messages, their value, their deliverables, etc. And it’s essential that prospects listen. But in this ADD society, where people are barraged by distractions at all hours of the day, getting our messages heard can be challenging. To get people to listen, we must first get them to care. So how do we do that?

The answer is to listen first. If we let others go first in describing what they do and what is important to them, we have a much better chance of engaging them when it’s our turn to talk. It may seem a bit counterintuitive to listen first and speak later—especially if our objective is to be heard. But listening to others is a prerequisite for showing that we care. And when we care about others, they care in return.

Consider the relationship between a psychologist and her patient. Usually, the patient knows little of a personal nature about the psychologist, while the psychologist knows a lot about the patient. Even so, the patient has an incredibly close relationship with the psychologist because she has intently listened to him and made a real effort to understand.

If you want to get your message across, try this “you first” approach. I have seen it completely change the dynamics of both personal and business relationships. The next time you’re tempted to immediately tell a prospect about all the great things you do, take a minute to listen first.

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Maribeth Kuzmeski is the founder of Red Zone Marketing, LLC, which consults to Fortune 500 firms on strategic marketing planning and business growth. For more information, go to


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