Conversational marketing is a commonly used term in the Web 2.0 / social media world. A few weeks ago, I attended the Conversational Marketing Summit hosted by John Battelle. One of the main messages I took from the summit was that “conversational marketing cannot be dictated or controlled, only joined” and – which I totally agree with “the most powerful form of marketing is through conversations“. It reminds me of a post I wrote months ago about how communities create viral marketing. Of course they share many of the same attributes, viral marketing is completely different than conversational marketing; however, I do feel that both are driven by communities.
Think about it. How many times have you been out to dinner with friends and during the conversation someone says “so, I bought these awesome boots on eBay last week. The process was so easy. I just love eBay”. I hear it all the time from my wife; not only because she works at and uses eBay, but because she is always shopping (uhh, yeah I’ll save that for another post). The point is that whether online or offline, there are conversations going on today about your brand; and these conversations should not be ignored. Here are a couple of questions you should think about:
- Are you joining these conversations? Better yet, are you facilitating these conversations? While it’s okay to respond to negative criticism on someone else’s blog; it’s more effecitve to facilitate the conversation somewhere hosted on your corporate web site.
- Are you bombarding your target users with corporate marketing messages that most don’t see anyway, or are you providing a forum for users to provide feedback about your product or service?
The best example I can think of is Dell. While I am no Dell enthusiast and prefer HP, I do admire what they are doing with their new site Dell Idea Storm. It’s basically a wiki site using a Digg type algorithm that ranks product recommendations from users. And guess what? Dell is not only listening but they are also having authentic conversations with their customers. This is probably one of the smartest marketing investments that Dell has ever made.