It is common in the medical profession to seek a second opinion on a diagnosis, and the practice works equally well during marketing and communications planning. You establish the first opinion when you draft an integrated marketing plan with strategies and tactics. Then you can share some plan elements with other stakeholders and ask for feedback.

Building a customer-centric marketing team requires a game plan. Customers can be an important source for feedback, but you’ll want to be thoughtful and intentional about how your team asks for customer feedback.

  1. First, do no harm. As with the first rule of medical treatment, you must create a feedback plan that captures customer input while enhancing customer relationships.
  2. 2. Consider the competitive environment. Establish parameters that meet your security requirements while fostering a candid, trusting dialogue.
  3. Create an interactive format. Set up a password-protected survey on your web site so customers and other visitors can share feedback on your branding, messaging or other marketing strategies.
  4. One-on-one is best. You will get some of the best insights by engaging customers and would-be buyers in one-on-one interviews, which can serve as the basis for creating buyer personas. Interviewing is a learned skill, so practice before you start dialing customers.
  5. Go social. Social media can be a great way to gather feedback and ideas from your customers and prospective buyers.
  6. Be selective. Ask customers to give feedback on selected plan elements or marketing content rather than asking them to review a lengthy document or presentation. Construct questions that solicit opinions or ask customers to choose between alternative approaches or messages.
  7. Give feedback on the feedback. Don’t just thank customers for participating. Tell them later how their feedback influenced your plan.

Finally, repeat the feedback process year over year. The insights you get from customer feedback will help you establish benchmarks and best practices and determine which strategies and tactics will deliver the best return on investment.