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Conversation Marketing: Can We Talk?

Jan 25, 2008
The latest buzz word in marketing is "Conversation Marketing." Without ever hearing about conversation marketing until recently, this is the way that I prefer to get a message out about something that I'm endorsing or yes ... if you want to hear the dirty word ... selling. The phrase that really stood out in my mind was "All marketing is a conversation."

"The awful truth about marketing is that it broadcasts messages to people who don't want to listen... much of business communication is written in contrived and artificial language, supposedly designed to impress, but actually signaling just how impersonal the firm and its professionals are."

I see so many of the long, hypey big red lettered sales letters and still wonder how that type of marketing can be successful. I know that many "gurus" use them and make money, but in my opinion, you aren't reaching a large part of the market through this method of communication. Basically, you're reaching an audience who is looking for a "dream in a box" solution and willing to believe anything that promises that.

To me ... and maybe it's just me, I find those type of sales letters to be more annoying than persuasive. It's packaged marketing, spoken in a fake voice and often uses scare tactics and unfounded promises to reel their customers in. Many marketers see marketing as a one-sided dialogue ... nothing more than a propaganda campaign. This type of marketing rarely answers any questions I might have about the product.

The marketer that is able to reach his market in a real voice and engage his audience in a two-way dialogue is the marketer who is going to be able to build trust and relationships that convert into sales. In the offline world of marketing, where you meet your prospective clients, you have a greater opportunity to employ Conversational Marketing. Instead of giving yet another boring presentation, you can have a question and answer session. In a personal one-on-one presentation, you can give your prospects a handout and then instead of launching into a one-way dialogue of your capabilities and contract issues, see if you can engage your prospect in a conversation to determine what his problems and needs are.More...

That is what marketing is all about, really ... finding a problem or need and offering a solution. If you want to deepen your existing business relationships and build loyalty (and generate additional business), you need to have ongoing conversations with your clients about the things going on in their business or life and how you might help them to solve their problems or meet their needs.

Having conversations with prospective customers when your business is online

Instead of making your website little more than an electronic brochure, turn your website into an interactive media offering advice, ideas, and commentary on trends. You can also use "how valuable was this" buttons and surveys to engage your readers in a conversation and get their ideas and opinions.

Some other ideas for adding interactivity to your blog and encouraging reader participation are:

1. Allow Readers to Be Experts
Choose readers with an intelligent posting history to become category experts, answering reader questions on their topic via email and, in return, give them a link back to their site on your "experts" page.

2. Schedule Group Chats
Schedule a weekly web chat using the chat medium of your choice. Set aside a time and make sure you let your readers know what timezone you are in for international readers. Good for getting to know your readers.

3. Allow Commenters to Guest Blog
Select the month's best commenter (you can even choose by poll) and allow the winner to guest post. This can encourage readers to post intelligently and more often.

4. Ask Your Readers
Instead of always providing information for your readers, ask your readers questions or ask for tips on a certain topic. They submit their answers and tips via commenting. You could then post the results with all of the best tips and comments provided. You can also have your readers suggest topics that they would be interested in reading.

5. Add a forum to your blog
It's simple to add a forum to your blog using one of the free online forums available. It's a great idea for building community and going into more depth on topics than your blog allows. Also a great way for you and the readers to get to know each other.
Instead of a newsletter, use a blog to share your ideas on topics relating to your target market. It's much more interactive than a newsletter. Critical to a blog's success is a feature that not only allows, but encourages people to post replies. Reply to the repliers and analyze which topics are being read the most.

It's really hard to sustain a conversation, especially on a blog, when you don't have anything interesting to say. Don't just blog about the same things everyone else is blogging about, regurgitating the same rehashed info that you can find on hundreds of other blogs. It's boring and it's basically, just filler. Sit down and think about your topics and write something unique that isn't hyped all over the Internet ... and yes, I said write. That doesn't mean copy from elsewhere and reword to avoid duplicate content ... that means write, in your own voice with your own personality shining through. When all is said and done, that is the way you are going to build a successful blog and a successful online business.
About the Author
Suzanne Bucciarelli is the owner of EZ Money Online , a website which provides free articles and advice for people who want to start an online business and work at home. Please visit: EZ Money Online
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