On Thursday I will be sharing what I learned about conversation with a group of marketers at The New Media Marketing Day dubbed The Era of Conversation.
There is an impressive line up of practitioners, including C.C. Chapman, Geoff Livingston author of the companion blog for his upcoming book Now is Gone (November 12, 2007), veteran NBC news camera man Jim Long, IBM new technology adviser (to government organizations) Mark Cleverley, and Stephen Marino who works at OgilvyPR 360 Digital Influence.
The conversation has been a critical consideration for years when selling in the service business -- who is not in the service business today? Veteran branding and positioning expert Harry Beckwith said it best in his book The Invisible Touch:
You find the key insights you need -- after your own, which are the most critical -- in the mind of your market's key observers and prospects. But they do not volunteer those insights. Often, they do not even arrive at them until they have entered a discussion in which they say one thing, then another, then piece the two together into something new. And they do not offer these easily -- in deed, they rarely offer them at all -- to someone they don't feel comfortable with.
During the first twenty minutes, these people have their guard and inhibitions up. [...]
Organized research, or certainly formal research, will not help you arrive at these insights. You need conversations in which your subjects feel comfortable, in which they lose sight of the fact that this might be research.
Hi payoff: Don't research; listen. He wrote the book in 2000. We did not discover conversation, it was always there, available to us and used by some of the most experienced and successful business professionals. What changed are the tools. We have many more today.
That does not mean that we should cede control of our advertising, lead generation, and value propositions to our customers. In fact, more than ever, they expect us to have a clear idea of what we are about and why we benefit them. They also expect something else, they always did by the way, now they have ways to tell you -- they expect human contact.
Join the conversation on Thursday October 4 at the Direct Marketing Association of Washington. I will attempt to have my slides posted here that day for those who cannot make it. I warn you, my conversation is designed to include the audience.
[with Geoff Livingston at Buddakan in Philadelphia]