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  • Writer's pictureGerry

Conversing rather than communicating

Updated: Aug 2, 2019

I think it is helpful to think about your marketing comms as conversation topics and that your best consumer relationships are conversations.

There are two big impacts from adopting this approach:

1. You have to consider who you are ‘talking’ too and whether this piece of communication is appropriate for that audience.

That seems obvious but how many business out there are using “send all” rather than appropriate group selection.

2. The way that this is generally masked is that any offers/discounts/features contained in the comms are ‘tailored to me’. However as accurate as that can be, that is not the only variable in conversation context.

- do i have time?

- am i focused on something else?

- does this fit with what is going on with me?

- what happened the last time we ‘talked’?

In his book, The Choice Factory, Richard Shotton wrote about the fundamental attribution error brands make in attributing more value to the person than the context. He backs this up with a thought study that highlights this imbalance.

So what contextual factors are you accounting for? What contextual factors are you targeting or is it all based on the persona? I see so many headlines about marketers being ready for 'Gen Z' or Millennials. Is that the only factor you are taking into consideration?

1. I believe there is a balance to be struck by thinking about “this consumer, in this situation or mindset.” In this case it is unlikely Tuesday is a situation! If that is a fundamental part of your targeting criteria, at best you are missing an opportunity to be more contextual.

2. I have also been a part of many businesses where the criteria of success was skewed to how many people I communicated with rather than, how many customers I struck up and/or continued a conversation with.

So what conversation are you trying to start or trying to continue depending on progress to date?

What frequency are you applying to this conversation? The only conversations I have on a daily basis are my close family. Even my close friends are infrequent conversations but that is part of the built-in value to a close relationship over time.

How many times have you heard the statement “I don’t see them very often but when I do, we just pick up from where we left off!”

How many of your valued customers can say that about your comms approach?

Example: one of my University flatmates from Scotland emailed me the other day. He was prompted to do so when he heard a song that reminded him of me (oh the power locked in shuffle capability!) He just wanted to check in to see how we are all doing.

Now granted our relationship is way more than transactional, but how many customers can you say the same for? Do you know the difference, recognize the difference and act on the difference?

How many metrics do you have in your business that help you understand this number over time? Or are you so consumed by the volume metric and 'saying something’ that it doesn’t afford you the time to build the funnels that connect in a way that allows your conversation to flow.

And when you say you love your customers, do you communicate with them like you do? Or do you communicate with them because you are fearful of the outcome for you if you don't!

Hear me right, this doesn’t mean that comms announcing events/launches/deals etc. that may be of interest are obsolete. Far from it. However if this is your ONLY conversation topic, you can see why this can get very stale, very quickly, and why your customer relationships are purely transactional.

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