The Con in Conversation

    March 1, 2007

The con in conversation is that it often means conversion, at least when marketers say it.

Conversion of opinion and perception, conversion of loyalty and trust and in many cases, hopefully, conversion of dollars and cents.

There’s nothing new here really, conversion through conversation has been around for, well, centuries. It’s the stuff of philosophy, religion, politics, education, and yes, business too.

Conversion through conversation is a powerful thing, especially within the larger context of a social web. The challenge many marketers struggle with today, however, is how best to filter, weigh and prioritize conversations. To the extent that it maximizes your efforts and returns. Put another way:

How do you separate the purposeless conversation from the purposeful one?

I think there’s a tendency among some marketers right now to consider all conversations, particularly online ones, as inherently good and valuable, and such, a justified use of time and resources. It’s just not true and it’s certainly not practical. Listening is important, no doubt, but when it comes to response and engagement, you really need to pick and choose which conversation will have the best returns and outcomes – i.e., which conversation will serve a/your purpose best.

There’s a place here for metrics and measurements and consulting too, but conversational marketing is an art, not a science. It requires a mix of ingredients for success, but more often then not, the thing it requires most is focus. Lose it and what was purposful conversation quickly turns into idle blabber.


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