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Conversation Marketing – Join In!

Posted on Apr 17th, 2008
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    Joseph Jaffe Presentation

    [Note from Lee: Please join me in welcoming Jessica Cameron-Ruud as a contributor to Online Marketing Blog. Jessica works as an Account Coordinator with TopRank’s Online Marketing clients]

    Over the past few months, MCAD and MIMA have hosted a series of events here in Minneapolis entitled ‘Conversations About The Future of Advertising’ (CATFOA). The most recent of which featured Joseph Jaffe, author of the new book “Join the Conversation”, who discussed conversational marketing as the next step for companies to connect with their customers.

    A conversation is no longer defined as a sole dialog between two people, but as Jaffe explained, conversations are being held online between two or more sides including business to business, business to consumer, and even consumer to consumer. The conversation can be positive, negative or indifferent.

    The point Jaffe made so well is that in today’s world, perception is reality. Conversation marketing re-introduces the opportunity to make a personal connection with customers and start building sincere relationships that last.

    So, how do companies go about joining the conversation?

    Jaffe gave several tips on how businesses can start to participate:

    • Listen – make contribution to the conversation real, not just hype
    • Respond – even if you are approached negatively, respond
    • Join – position yourself to be invited to join the conversation
    • Catalyze – empower customers to demonstrate your brand on your behalf
    • Start – be a conversation conduit and start a conversation

    One thing to keep in mind is that it is important that companies are transparent and honest with the communities they are interacting with. The objective of a conversation is not to trick customers into performing some task or marketing outcome, but to be actively involved with the community as a participant: listening, sharing and interacting.

    In order to be effective at “joining the conversation”, Jaffe listed some things a company shouldn’t be:

    • Fake – be transparent in your communications
    • Manipulative – be open, don’t try to fool other participants
    • Controlling – understand that you can’t control everything all of the time
    • Dominating – the world doesn’t operate solely on your terms, allow others room to talk
    • Avoiding – marketing is no longer a spectator sport, you must be active and participate

    Some companies pay lip service to conversation marketing and some have fully embraced it. Most are experimenting or at least curious. I’d love to hear how our readers have embraced social interaction online and how they’ve used social media to start conversations with their customers. Do you consider any of your online marketing efforts as “conversation marketing”?