In addition to the best of Conversation Agent, the themes and articles that resonated most in 2015 dealt with creativity and imagination, how to become more curious, learning to think better, the importance of writing to express ourselves and connect and the value of conversation.
They are big topics and much of the year was an exploration of how our culture and social interactions signal what is acceptable. We are shifting from things to experiences, from material goods to bits and yet we are still grappling with choices and the decisions we make have probably even greater consequences.
Do we spend two hours messaging on Apps or commenting on Facebook or do we read? If we read more, do we learn better? How do we translate our vision of product or service or interaction into a better experience?
These are the questions I set out to research and document on Conversation Agent this year.
- Why it's important for marketers to write well -- people want interaction and businesses need communication more than ever to work smarter, understand customers and clients, create better experiences and enhancing opportunity
- Becoming a Conversation Agent -- this is a bit introspective, in addition to the talk I gave at Inbound about the frameworks that changed my life, which in turn help me support the work of others, I shared some advice on conference attendance
- Making digital trends actionable -- do we take the information we consume at face value? What if we learned to question it more? How would we start and could we make it a collaboration?
- Meeting of the minds in business -- is there such a thing? With every new fad we forget the reason that stands behind what we did in the past. For example the idea of building a brand -- why can't we see what customers experience when we are on the other side?
- Four ideas for writing more and better -- being able to bridge between what we see in our mind and what we present to the world is key — skill is how we build that bridge
- How to identify the best opportunities to make an impact -- if we asked ourselves -- are we making a difference? Would we be satisfied with our answer or would we find it satisficing?
- The next big thing is not a technology at all -- the Web enables us to interact with people and brands at the level of closeness or distance of our own choosing. It's not about achieving blanket intimacy with all customers. It's about giving people the option to calibrate their level of engagement -- or distance
- APIs as personal systems in the networked marketplace -- the traditional sales process is fully dualistic - there’s a buyer, and there’s a seller. We are witnessing the dissolution of the traditional sales role, as recommendation commerce evolves and store- fronts become wherever we happen to be, doing whatever we are doing. Which brings us to the Storeless Store and Saleless Sale
- Language and the lost art of letter writing -- communication may seem like a miracle. We should marvel that it happens at all. Two or more beings engaged in changing each other's brains. Sometimes, we enter conversations open to changing our minds as well. Pair with How stories influence what we do
- Subjecting what we read to inquiry -- with greater access comes greater responsibility -- learning to separate bedrock from sand and thinking critically about what we read are a good starting point. Asking questions, engaging in conversations, creating shared understanding are very much in demand, yet many organizations have forgotten how to get there
- When technology fails to fade into the background -- we get so wrapped up in the technology, that we pay little attention to who needs to use it and in which contexts
- Attention is not a zero sum game -- while marketers have long been preoccupied with getting attention, get traffic and convert it, media has long been more focused on keeping attention, become a destination
- The difference between innovation and strategy -- learning to differentiate concepts starts with defining the terms we use to describe them
- The most valuable skill that nobody teaches is how to listen -- people tell me I am a deep listener; in many situations this is vital to learning
- The paradox of our age -- though we are all connected, our culture is highlighting and encouraging individual credit rather than collective contribution
Many of the articles from past years still hold today or have aged very well:
- The best of Conversation Agent for 2014
- Some of my favorite posts for 2013
- Download the collection of 45 articles between 2011-2012
- The best of 2010, the year social went operational
- Best of 2009, the year of execution
- Best Conversations of 2008
- My 12 best marketing conversations of 2007
[Zurich, early morning]