Conversational Marketing: Any Topic… So Long As It’s About Our Product

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by: C. Sven Johnson

Nice little opinion piece by Elinor Mills over on C|Net, “Want to ‘converse’ with advertisers? Me neither” (Link) that’s worth a read. It brought to mind Henry Ford’s famous line about color options on early model T’s. I mean, who do they think they’re kidding?

Give Federated Media credit though, at least they seem to have something to discuss. In a follow-up interview (Link), Frank Rose, author of a Wired article that got the Second Life community perhaps a bit too upset, he volunteers a couple of worthwhile quips suggesting that not all marketers even know what to say:

I think where the real problem comes in is — there’s a lot of naive corporate marketing people out there. [ouch!]

The sort of direct mail analogy for online marketing in general–one-to-one contact, community elements, forums, people talking back to you about your products — that’s sort of missing from Second Life in this point. That’s a problem.

Yep. Having to actually engage consumers in a real conversation instead of talking at them in a limited and controlled online environment is a real problem for people who are only interested in talking about what they want to sell. Consequently, I tend to agree with Ms Mills when she includes, “The most genuine conversation occurs when it is started by the consumer/reader or the blogger.” But I’d also point out that degrees of “genuine” doesn’t make much sense to me. It’s either a conversation, or it’s something else.

I’d also concede that because someone can be both a consumer and a provider, there are times when the “conversation” can be initiated by a marketer. But it’s rare. And it will continue to be rare so long as most people are selling products in which they have no interest… beyond their providing them with a paycheck.

Any wonder I’m interested in niche products?

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