Communication via Flickr: AJC1

When we think of marketing sometimes it can have a negative connotation like we are trying to convince someone of something that they really do not care about. It has been thought of as more of a one sided propaganda campaign. It’s not very persuasive to have someone lecture, preach or talk at you; and it can even be quite annoying. When we are the client, we do not respond to these one sided pre-packaged web marketing campaigns. However, if we can design an online marketing campaign that is interactive, more person to person it will be much more natural and comfortable for both parties. By thinking of marketing like a two-way conversation, we can redesign our marketing strategies using the web 2.0 platforms.

Characteristics of a Conversation

When we engage in a conversation, we do not use our “corporate” language. Instead we simply speak person to person. A conversation is not one sided, both people talk and the two are dependent on each other for input; one responding to the other. When there is problem solving involved, both parties participate and neither one of them is trying to override the other or prevail. A conversation does not have to be between persons with the exact same views. When we think of marketing like a conversation, our goals will move away from contracts and costs and become an interactive dialogue between two persons about different beliefs and ideas; sometimes from varying perspectives. This is when “marketing” will build confidence and commitment which can lead to new revenue. This is entirely possible using the Web 2.0 platforms and social media outlets.

Interactive Website

Conversational marketing can start with an interactive website. Rather than making your business website brochure-like, turn it into an online location which is interactive by offering ideas, advice and comments about current trends in your business or niche. Include survey buttons through which visitors can rate how valuable the information or format was to them, or allow users to suggest topics for additional content. Provide content in various formats such as written, video or audio and allow the site visitor to select their preference. This allows clients to feel valued and empowers them to choose the mode of communication rather than just lumping everyone together in one big audience.

Exchange the Newsletter for a Blog

Blogging allows a place to communicate ideas, opinions, and beliefs as they relate to the marketplace. But it is more conversational, like you are sharing with the consumer and not like you’re selling them on something. This is especially useful when readers are encouraged to post comments or reply. But it is important that the blogger reply to the comments to ensure that interactivity is supported. Be sure to check your data pertaining to where your audience is coming from and include these factors into the marketing plan. If you run out of ideas for your blog, try including a few guest posts by those who are well qualified, knowledgeable and interesting to your field.

Create a Private Online Community for Clients

Creating an interactive environment is not difficult with today’s technology. Forums, chat rooms, and blogs can all be places which allow for two-sided conversation on any given topic. When you host and moderate a forum, or private online community it allows clients and other interested parties (who may become clients) to have a voice though which they can pose questions, comment on your services, or offer input on key issues. Clients can learn a lot from your business through this type of conversational communication. They can also learn a lot about your product or services from their peers. Think about it this way; if someone is going to chat online about your business, services or products shouldn’t you be present? Setting up these types of opportunities allows you to interact directly with your clientele.