What makes a company’s marketing efforts extraordinary vs. ordinary?

Chances are the former is centered on and designed around, the client and/or prospect and the concept of relationship building – not the company, product features or individual marketer accountable for showing results.

Some get that and some don’t. For those that don’t, here are some ways to challenge yourself and get better at “making it all about them”.

1.  Listen (no, I mean really listen)

  • At the end of the day, growing a brand and getting revenue in the door comes from building great relationships — which means as marketers we need to truly listen to what our target audiences care about (and be open-minded). Therefore, conversations and interactions (external or internal) can’t be all about you and your points of view — you can’t be a great marketer if you only respond productively when you hear exactly what you want, in the way you want.
  • In the broadest sense you can make it less about you by simply waiting for a response, listening to and respecting what you’re hearing…and then making your judgments and/or decisions once you have fully digested the information (without any personal agenda attached to it). If this does not come naturally to you, practice in your everyday interactions and see if/how it programs you to be a better marketer.
  • Social media and online marketing give us more opportunity, tools and resources as marketers to do this, than ever — but you have to go into it with an “it’s all about them” attitude for it to work. Listen and learn, as they say.

2.  Forget preconceived notions — validate and test what you “think” you know

  • Marketers usually have goals and quantifiable expectations for their marketing programs, but to effectively design these around your target audience — it may be useful to challenge and test your preconceived notions about what motivates them, what interests them, where/how they shop and how they behave/decide.
  • So make a commitment to do your research, test and analyze – this mantra in and of itself forces you to make it about them. In addition, seek out cynical or uncomfortable feedback that doesn’t necessarily match up with your preconceived ideas. You can practice this by building relationships with naysayers, antagonists and/or folks in your everyday life with a completely different point-of-view or approach than yours. In marketing, this of course is the thrust of unbiased research and/or data analysis – by spending time uncovering and truly understanding the problems your audience needs to solve, or analyzing data that provide unbiased insights, you’ve already done the heavy lifting to make it all about them.

3.  Learn to value both internal and external partnerships (because it’s the right thing to do, not just because you need them to do something for you)

  • Consider the point-of-view and value in others that are either stakeholders or direct contributors to your marketing activities. If you step out of your head once in a while; and proactively reach out for different perspectives, opinions and ideas (without a self-serving agenda) as part of the process — you may be surprised at the brilliant perspectives that come out (that are best for the business).  Bottoms-up thinking (that has nothing to do with you) can often drive the most creative and productive concepts.

These are just some suggestions for balancing the “It’s all about me” thinking process. The fact is we must all consider when to make it about us vs. them (as there is a proper time for both); this is how life works — but in marketing, you will likely have greater success if your strategy and tactical activities are focused primarily on your target audience, not you.

This article originally appeared on Lydia’s Marketing Blog