Monday, April 14, 2008

Can Marketers Have Conversations?

Today, Sam Lawrence, the CMO of Jive Software, did a post entitled, "Stop guarding your precious brand". The basic message is that marketing and PR people are too controlling, they need to let go, and they need to have "conversations" with the market...
Marketing needs to be released from being solely responsible for changing perceptions or driving leads. They should be enabling the organization to make meaningful, positive customer experiences and connections. This may seem like a subtle shift but when Marketing can feel comfortable becoming listeners instead of blasting sales messages, dramatic change ensues. Suddenly, employees start to really learn about what interests the market without a commercial agenda. Real conversations begin and Marketers begin to enlist the assets of the organization. This results in much more positive customer experiences. I think of this as ROB (”Return on Behavior”) others may think of it as some form of Net Promotor Score (NPS).
I agree with Sam but I do think it is a difficult mindset for marketers to become comfortable with. I have been in the enterprise software space for much of my career and historically, organizations have spent a tremendous amount of time crafting the perfect messages they want to push out to the marketplace in preparation for marketing events (i.e., a product launch). In an earlier post, I questioned whether the time spent in developing the perfect marketing messages was worth it and proposed a different mindset...
A launch is the beginning of a continuous conversation, not a proclamation that needs to be "set in stone" for a period of time. Sure, you don't want to confuse the marketplace and change your messaging often. At the same time, however, it is now very easy (thanks to the Web, pdf, and PowerPoint) to evolve your messages as you learn more from the marketplace.
With the Internet, there are so many tools available to listen to the "voice of the customer" that it is a shame for marketers not to take advantage of them to have a conversation with their marketplace.

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