Others attempt to copy it - you know who you are and my (free) advice to you is to come up with an idea you can claim your own. This has me written all over it (never mind prior use, etc.)
Briefly, I was Made in Italy, grew up in the land of conversation - I've been learning and practicing being it my whole life. Do you think I have a jump start on it?
Conversation Agent in many ways is conceptually like Intel - it powers things from the inside remaining focused on the outside performance.
In other words, it's my job to understand your business, how you make money, where the challenging points are, and providing a way to power it so that the end user - your customers and prospects - can deal with you on their terms.
Often terminology has a lot to do with it. More often it's the business itself that needs an engine tune up.
Too many are getting stuck with the tools and forget the protagonist, still. Today we often call these tools social media. If you make the appropriate business decisions to align with the marketplace, we can make a case for why you will benefit enormously from investing in an integrated conversations program using the appropriate tools.
Social media ends up being a choice because that's where your customers are talking and connecting. You know how it is, we do prefer an unsolicited and candid opinion of a peer. Until such time when we will be comfortable voting for what's best for the customer, even when it's not us, we need to understand that our customers want to make that choice. We can, however, put our best foot forward.
Choosing tools is very much like picking the right networking event. You don't show up to hurl cards at people, you show up to meet, get to know, ask questions, etc. However, you need to want to show up and then be ready to do it to come across as someone one would want to meet.
Conversation into Conversion
Not the other way around. I know what you're thinking. That's all very nice, but we need lots of leads to fill the pipeline. As long as our database is correct, we should center everything on direct response and lots of volume. Yes, that's a real need at the moment. The number one type of solicitation I receive at work is from companies that provide lead generation and lead nurturing services.
We all want real, tangible results - and we want them this quarter. Consider the long term implications of this statement. What was it that Einstein said? You cannot solve a problem using the same thinking that caused it. Or something to that effect. Long, sustained growth is a healthier choice.
Jumping to Conclusions
Approaches with metrics attached to them are welcome. Do measure everything you do. But please refrain from arriving at conclusions prematurely. Are you familiar with syllogism? From Greek, it means inference. In Aristotle's Prior Analytics, he defines syllogism as "a discourse in which, certain things having been supposed, something different from the things supposed results of necessity because these things are so."
It's about deductive reasoning. See how a Liberal Arts degree comes in handy? I wanted to get your attention focused on analytics, because they're your friend.
Conversation leads to conversion. As readers and browsers online, we have conversations with Web sites. The better the site, the more me-centered - with a robust search engine, one that remembers what I like and proposes new stuff that matters to me (like Amazon) - the better.
The more relevant and valuable the content experience - with a layer of peer-generated or even customizable company-generated tools that will make the job I'm trying to do easier - the higher the conversions.
Conversations are content-driven. You could be talking about the weather and if you're in the agriculture business that is the most interesting thing you could ever share.
Attention and Time
I realize that there is a lot here - your business deserves this much attention and more to help you serve your customers better. Social media is direct response - customers have the opportunity to tell you directly what they want from you. That is if you've been networking properly and you hear them.
Are you willing to deliver on that? You already have a lot of information about customer behavior on your site - you find it through Web analytics.
The thing is you can observe a lot by tracking things, but unless you ask, you can rarely figure it all out on your own. You will find a very good survey example if you follow the link I provided for Intel.
Did your customer leave that page because they found what they wanted, or did they bounce off because they did not find it? Or, your Web site is very sticky - people spend a lot of time on it - yet you cannot tie that to sales or outcomes.
Why? Surveys and feedback can be built into all communications - you start with a baseline, form a business strategy, attach goals to it, execute tactics, measure against your goals, analyze feedback, adjust and repeat. We lost the discipline to follow the process.
Social media has the feedback built into it (no answer is also feedback), but still lacks much of the standardized process you're used to with other channels. That's because it's not a channel.
Does social media change things? You bet. People don't need your communication to have a conversation. Now the question is, do you want to participate and contribute? If you do, then we can work on answering why and figuring out the hows and whats.
Conversation Agent is an elegant way of saying (remember, language matters) - I help businesses understand how customers and communities have changed marketing, public relations, and communications, and how to build value in this new environment.
How do I know that?
20 years doing what I do, 10 of which experimenting online, including building communities and speaking the business models and languages of five industries. I've made enough mistakes in enough cultures to have learned a few things.
That means I actually studied and learned about risk management, chemical manufacturing, technology services, consulting, science and health - in addition to understanding how distribution models, regulatory and policy issues influence the process and how operational strategies and marketing partnership work to make a business what it is.
My technology to growth and, in a couple of cases exit strategies, is marketing and communications. The spotlight is on the business and the people who make it work.
Tomorrow we'll talk about the future of the agency.