Not me. And I would guess not many of us. Not unless we want to vent or tell that brand what we want, and that’s not really a conversation. A bit one way to be termed conversational marketing.
I want to have conversations with people. Real people, my friends, my family, my colleagues – not a jar of pickle, a holiday destination or a luxury car. And not even a chat with a brand with whom I have large amounts of affinity, such as Chelsea FC. This is a commercial entity, a corporate thing that might purport to be my soul mate but mostly just wants my money with a bit of vocal support on a Saturday afternoon thrown in.
But, for the record, just to confuse matters I am an ardent vocalist for what I term conversational marketing. Not with a view to brand x and consumer y chewing the cud. That’s just a one-dimensional slant on conversation. No, good conversational marketing is multi-layered.
Insight and creative impact to get the conversation started
To start with all the most successful campaigns from past and present have prompted conversation. From Saatchi’s pregnant man, to Wonderbra’s empowerment of women, to Dove’s real beauty campaign, each and every one has stimulated debate. So, conversation starts with insight and with good creative impact it can set tongues wagging positively.
Listen and be present but not overbearing
Secondly, while brands that are selling you stuff shouldn’t sit in attendance and try to be your friend, they should recognize what their customer base is chatting about. Reflect this, sponsor the causes that matter, be present but not overbearing and brands can find a way into a space that is about positive endorsement of what matters to your audience. Listening in on conversations will also help brands develop stronger, more meaningful and relevant positionings.
Being in places where conversation is happening naturally is one other method by which brands can play a more active role in consumer interaction. Use events and experiential to facilitate conversation. Be a catalyst for talking and you might become a talking point.
Seek recommendations and endorsements
Amidst an inherent mistrust of the corporate machine, consumers are more than ever looking to each other for recommendations – people they know and people they don’t know. But always people, not companies. To suggest, to show, to propose. So, brands need to orientate themselves to the effective use of influencer and ambassador programmes, to employ methods and techniques to drive recommendations – naturally.
Use digital and technology to drive interaction and sharing
And finally embrace digital. Amidst a mass of media noise conversational marketing has never been more important and, never more opportunistic. Social, content, native advertising, video, apps, interactive technology and data insights are all on our plate. But use these digital engagement possibilities wisely. Be a conversation starter not a conversation stopper.