At Incept, we use the term Conversational Marketing to define how we approach talking with customers. We believe the difference between our methods and more traditional marketing techniques is that we focus on talking with the customer, whereas more traditional marketing methods tend to talk at the customer.
The term Conversational Marketing comes from an idea that isn’t new. To create Conversational Marketing, we adopted and adapted the core concepts outlined in a pair of books: The Cluetrain Manifesto, which talks about how markets were conversations, and Fierce Conversations, which talks about how conversations really are the relationship.
In order to develop our idea, we had to analyze where marketing came from, and how we got here. It used to be that you bought a ton of media, you shot it up in the air and hoped some one paid attention to it. Direct marketing got a little more specific. It allowed marketers to target specific areas, demographics, etc. Then telemarketing came along, and we were able to reach into a customer’s home and have a two-way conversation with them.
The change really started happening when online and interactive marketing came around. You could get a very specific ad placed where it was most likely to succeed, based on previous behavior. These online marketing techniques really weren’t conversational yet, but they still paid attention to your preferences regarding how you wanted to be communicated with.
So the way we define Conversational Marketing is the equivalent of a dinner table discussion where the marketer has been invited in – they’re actually welcome and treated as a part of the family, so to speak. And they’re giving and getting feedback that’s all relevant and valuable to the customer.
It’s not just listening in the way we traditionally define it. Listening being me hearing you as a part of a conversation is important, but listening also refers to what’s being said online. So the things we talk about internally with our team are the one-to-one interactions. Things like paying attention to tone, how the customer responds and how busy they are, and then customizing the individual conversation to their needs are essential to how we look at listening now.
With regard to listening as it applies to marketing organizations, brands and businesses, we believe that paying attention to what’s being said about their brand and how people want to engage is critical to preventing challenges in the future.
It seems that while the drive to become better marketers was happening, the only thing that really happened faster was the drive for methods to keep messages from getting to you (spam blockers, caller ID, etc.). This push and counter-push was really a signal to us indicating that the consumer wants to have a door between themselves and the marketer; that they want the caveat of inviting you in.
Because of this cultural shift, we really saw Conversational Marketing as a method to ensure we’re delivering relevant messages at a time and place when people want to hear them. Again, we believe the key to marketing is having conversations with customers – not talking at them, but talking with them.
If you’d like to talk more about Conversational Marketing with us, feel free to comment on our blog, or visit us at www.InceptResults.com.