I am quite an avid reader of marketing magazines and blogs. This means I find myself reading a lot of articles that cover marketing from a theoretical, best practise angle as well as finding out what large brands (with huge resources) either attempt or our planning.
A lot of these ideas tend to be around the notion of having a “conversation” with your target audience, rather than the “old-fashioned” way of talking at them.
One way marketing is so last century!
Examples of the traditional model include TV, radio, press releases and magazine adverts (essentially what we categorise as being “above the line”).
The most common criticism of these forms of marketing is how one-way they are; they don’t build a two way conversation which means they are not building a relationship.
The current thinking is that brands should be forming “genuine” relationships with customers that work both ways.
Social media has certainly contributed to this way of thinking, but there are also other advances such as re-targeting and behavioural analysis that are helping marketers build personalised experiences for their customers.
In my opinion, personalisation is absolutely the future for consumer brands and although it is largely the preserve of big companies, the technology will become more prevalent and affordable for small companies, it always does.
Personalisation is not a conversation
However, personalisation is not the same as having a conversation. It is still automated, based on limited, pre-conceived collateral and completely passive.
A conversation requires effort on the part of a customer, and that is why they are so difficult for brands to actually pull off.
Ignoring any customer support issues, how many times have you actively engaged with a brand?
The marketing landscape is littered with the corpses of conversational campaigns, as brands realise no one actually wants to have one with them.
So many brands try to start a conversation that no-one cares about or barges in to an existing topic where they are not welcome or don’t really understand.
A worthwhile investment?
Creating a conversational marketing campaign requires a lot of work and time investment to plan, execute and maintain.
The questions is, is it worth it? If a brand is successful then of course the answer is ‘Yes!’ However, I would strongly argue the odds are very much against you and the idea that traditional one-way forms of communication no longer work is utter nonsense.
Take Coca-Cola’s recent campaign putting names on their cans. People are sharing their purchases, but they are talking to genuine friends, they aren’t having a conversation with Coke about it.
And this is the real goal, it’s not about having a conversation, it is about becoming part of the conversation in a contextually relevant way.