This was my original submission to the Age of Conversation II. Since it was still too long to be included, I wrote another (much shorter) entry for the book, which I will be expanding upon (without giving it away) in future weeks.
A good friend with whom I had lunch on Friday, told me that he very much enjoys - and uses - my advice on customer conversations. There is no expiration date on those.
When customers say yes -- when they're engaged -- continue listening and talking; in other words, continue the conversation. This may seem counterintuitive for people who grew up thinking that when your customer says yes, you should quit talking. You should never oversell, but should still ask for the order by allowing the customer to tell you when.
Yet it's a different dance, this of conversation, one where you lead, and let your customer lead, too. It may be uncomfortable at first. Traditionally, marketing has been about being the leading man. You may step on your customers' toes as you get used to the idea. The music, your company's policies, may be a bit out of tempo. But when you let your customers lead a little, when you relax in the conversation, you find that you rather enjoy the experience - and learn new steps.
We're used to seeing the marketing world in black and white. The fours Ps are alive and well: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. Social media adds hue. If you've been out of step with your customers for a while, it may add more than a few reds.
It's worth doing. The dynamics of customer intimacy developed through conversation allow the extra spring in your step to come out again. That's good. When you feel emPowered, you're Purposeful and Passionate as you Participate in establishing relationships. These are four Ps of social media. They allow you to go from "have to" to "want to", "get to."
In the movie Pleasantville, a brother and sister find themselves trapped inside a black and white TV drama. As they work through their new reality, they realize they their presence is changing it. Colors begin to show. Soon, others in the cast start to move in new directions. The trick in the movie is to have the appropriate balance between what the brother and sister bring to the set, and what the characters in the Fifties had.
It's the same with social media. The most effective way to go from conversation to action is not abandoning all rules. It's about active listening. You are a partner in this dance of conversation. You're still responsible to your customers for Products, Pricing, Place and Promotion. Now you're adding the dimensions of emPowerment, Purpose, Passion and Participation.
The magic of using social media to highlight what you offer is that you don't need to push and prod for the order. By letting your customers be part of the action -- giving them a way to voice their ideas on products they can help you make better -- they may begin to drive much of that promotion with you.
This active participation allows you to do more than improve your products and business model --- it allows you to get much closer to the marketplace, if you'll let it. Will you say yes to that?