TopRank Marketing Editor

Conversation Marketing – Join In!

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”?

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  1. Avatar Scott Bauman says

    Yes, I do. Didn’t write a book (yet), but I spend all my time explaining to clients that the litmus test for effectiveness today isn’t WHERE a story appears, but rather how much conversation it sparks. When a tree (chopped up and made into a newspaper) falls and nobody is there to hear (read) it, did it make a sound?

    Welcome Jessica!


  2. Avatar Scott Bauman says

    It’s yours Lee. See, I said I was a conversation starter 😉

  3. BTW, the next CATFOA event is with Brian Morrissey, Digital Editor at AdWeek 4/28 6pm at the Fine Line. Details on MIMA site.

  4. Man, I hope so. I wrote a book about “conversation marketing”…

  5. Thanks for stopping by Ian! LOL Scott, that’s good. I may use that today.

  6. Nice job Jessica. Sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet at the Fine Line. Your post summed his presentation up very well.

    Gave it a Sphinn

    -All the Best

  7. Thanks for the post and the coverage!

  8. Good recapitulation. The social interaction of companies with other companies and consumers is hard for everyone involved. It’s a new frontier in many aspects because of the format, but in all truth it’s just a retread of older CRM in a new area.

    Think of meeting customers at a retail store, except now you are Amazon and need to duplicate the customer service that happens at brick and mortars…or improve upon them. We may be dallying up “conversational marketing” because it’s the new buzzword, but it is extremely important that the end users know and like your brand regardless. So using new protocols (however lax or personal they may be) for building a brand in this new medium will be big. But it’s a struggle for marketers, web savvy or not.

  9. Thanks for the comments and warm welcome everyone 🙂

    Robert, you’ve made a great point. I think by joining the conversation with customers, even if the perception of the brand isn’t necessarily positive, you take a step in making that connection to better understand your customers. Although it might seem like a big mountain to climb, I think in the end each side will benefit from the connection.

  10. Somewhere I read Joseph Jaffe speak about his new book.. and it was not that clear what the new book is all about…
    This post made it crystal clear. 🙂

    I guess as the global economy moves more and more towards experiential aspect, conversational marketing will gain importance and companies will start practicing it on regular basis.

  11. Avatar Carolyn Phillips says

    I’m so excited! I am an old SEO and new to the conversational, social media thing. But I have to say, it feels natural. People aren’t stupid (or are they?) and get sick of the same old contrived messaging. It seems like a no-brainer to me that if you have a passion, a great product/service, this is THE way to market it. The trick here is getting folks beyond their techno fears and that’s another conversation I have daily with my clients. I find that one hands on training or yugma session can get them prepared to pounce on it! Also, it really jives with the whole Sustainability philosophy.

    Thanks Jessica, and I really gain so much insight from this blog more than ANY other out there.


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