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Brands are Conversations

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Ok, it’s been a while since I’ve disagreed with CNET’s Elinor Mills–something that rarely happens, as she’s a fantastic journalist–but here goes. :-)

Mills attended FM Publishing’s Conversational Marketing Summit and is somewhat skeptical that marketing and conversations can mix together.

Hold on. Who asked marketers to join readers online? I know blog publishers need to make money, and they do earn revenue off regular old text, video and banner ads. But I’m suspicious when the “conversation” is initiated by the marketer and not the consumer.

And what’s this with the slogan of the conference–”Brands are conversations”? No, they aren’t.

Oh yes they are. I believe that “brands” are indeed conversations. The perception of a brand is defined by those that have a stake in the brand–customers, employers, investors etc–and is therefore determined by what they have to say about it. Just ask Apple what happened to their brand when customers started “conversatin” about how much they felt ripped-off by the $200 iPhone price cut.

Ok, so maybe Elinor’s rebuttal would have been better offered to a statement such as “Advertising is a conversation” or “Branding is a conversation.” I’d definitely agree with Mills on either of those statements. Whenever the company is the one initiating the conversation–via marketing, advertising, branding etc–then it’s less likely to be a conversation and more likely to be a one-way dialog.

What do you think?

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