Why listening can be much cheaper than talking


In order to be listened to, you have to prove that you’re a great listener yourself.

Marketing and advertising are about amplifying the energy people put into telling stories and into convincing each other.

Nice thought by Guillaume Van der Stighelen (video), CEO co-founder of Duval Guillaume, whose book HELDenMERK (HERO&BRAND) Turn your brand into a hero (Maak van je merk een held) is coming out next week.

In order for your campaign to succeed, you have to find out what’s moving who, when it moves, where it moves and why.

And then your job and that of your agency’s to allow that movement to flow as freely as possible, to allow others to join that movement as easily as possible, and enjoy joining it.

Clients often think that changing people is the same as talking some sense into them. Feed them the right information, use some emotion and entertainment to spice it up a little, add some activation and networking tools and then it has to work.

If not, then there was something wrong with the campaign – it wasn’t good enough – or people are just too stupid to understand.


What I’m sure of is that there was something wrong with your campaign, but that wasn’t because the campaign was bad, it was because all it could do was fail.

No campaign can actually change people.

What it can do is fasten and intensify a process that was already there long before you came around.

What it can do is encourage people to take a new car only when they were already thinking about getting a new one.

Just throwing your truth at people and expecting them to behave according to what you say about the world is just not going to happen. At least not if they weren’t already behaving accordingly in one way or another.

Is there a trick to solve this?

There is something you can do. And it sounds almost too simple to be true.

In order to be listened to, you have to prove that you’re a great listener yourself.

You have to prove that you understand that the person you are talking to is interested in the things you talk about because you know who she is.

Why do you think the world’s leading design and product developmentfirm IDEO is so keen on anthropologists?

Because they are trained to listen to what reality tells them about a certain habit, a certain way of life, a certain person. They are trained to listen in a way which is different from the way you read statistics or a final report on market research.

If people get so wound up about personalization or one-to-one-marketing and authenticity it’s because they like being listened to, especially by someone they admire.

In fact, admiration for a brand can only come when you feel that the company cares about you, about your way of life, about what you like and dislike, about your friends and what they like.

If it’s so damn easy, if all you have to do is listen then why do so many people still get it wrong?

Apparently we believe that there is no time to listen anymore once we start talking.

Attention is scarce. There’s information everywhere and it seems like everyone is trying to get our attention at the same time.

So what most brands do when they get attention is talk talk talk. Get the message accross. Drop the bomb. Knock them Down. A-men.

We’ve done our listening, we know our clients, we’ve read the marketing reports. Now it’s time for talking.

And they never ever stop to listen.


Listening while communicating can actually buy you time far beyond what you’ve managed to get hold on by paying all this money for space and time (and at a much cheaper rate).

Just imagine you want a new kitchen and you organize a little sales pitch. You invite two salesmen. One just fires away and starts showing you everything they have. He gives you a lot of advice on what he thinks will be the greatest kitchen experience you’ll have ever known.

Now here’s the other guy. He asks you about your day, what you do. What kitchen your mother had and how you felt about it. What did you like, what didn’t you like? He looks around your house and wonders why you’ve bought that sofa and whether you are thinking about having kids in a few years. Then he tells you a story about how our mother’s kitchen plays an important role in the way we feel comfortable about our own kitchen. Just imagine this to be true.

Give it a thought. What will you do? Who will you like the most? Who will earn more attention and time from you?


Thanks to Pietel for the video-link.

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2 thoughts on “Why listening can be much cheaper than talking

  1. Guillaume says:

    thanks but I’m not ceo. Co-Founder is OK.

  2. Pieter says:

    Eigenlijk heet het boek ‘Maak van je merk een held’ gebaseerd op de idee van Guillaume over ‘Hero Brands’. Maar dat was zo vlot niet als domeinnaam. 🙂

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