One of the major stories on the internet this week was the dust up which occurred during an panel interview conducted with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg by Business Week reporter Sarah Lacy. During the interview, Ms. Lacy tried to assert control over the process and direct the discussion in a direction that she wished to follow. Unfortunately for her, this was not a direction which the audience wished to have the interview take and the audience rebelled, shouting insults to her and lambasting her over Twitter, a popular instant messaging tool during the interview. In the aftermath of the interview, literally hundreds of blog articles have been written on the subject, many of them blasting Ms. Lacy for inability to engage the audience and to allow them to be part of the process.
As noted on Search Engine Guide by Jennifer Laycock the Lacy/Zuckerberg interview can serve as a cautionary tale about mistakes marketers make. The first rule that Ms. Lacy forgot was that the most important thing a sales person or marketer needs to remember is that he or she must engage their potential customers. How often do you see salesmen or marketers fail to do this? They are so intent on telling potential customers about how good they are or how good the product is that they forget the most important factor, namely what the customer wants. Remember, the most important thing you are selling is how well your product can solve a customers problems, not how good you are. Ms. Lacy’s mistake was to center the interview around herself and her opinions, not on what the audience wanted. Since she was not concerned about addressing the audience, she lost them.
Moreover, she did not listen to the audience. As noted, the audience wanted to be a part of the interview. They wanted their questions answered. When Ms. Lacy failed to allow enough audience participation, she she lost them as “customers” for the presentation. How this translates to business is simple. Listen to what your customers want and give it to them. Don’t try to give them what you think they should want, give them what they want.