Does your company think about “The Marketing Conversation” when dealing with prospects and customers?
It has become important enough for large brands to take notice, according to the article “Why more brands are ditching the CMO position” in AdAge.
The marketing conversation — Is that how you look at it?
Evan Sharp, a consultant at recruiting firm Russell Reynolds Associates, says smart companies emphasize the marketing conversation as a new approach to reaching customers:
CMOs were all about outbound marketing and ‘we tell the customer who we are, what we stand for.’ Now it’s all about having a conversation with the customer being two-way. That’s often why these titles are changing, because the way companies are marketing has become a balance of left-brain, right-brain. It’s no longer all about creative.”
What people understand about marketing
Few people outside of the discipline understand marketing, though most of their perspectives fall into a few buckets:
- “Marketing is advertising.” Actually, that’s not a bad starting point, although “advertising is a form of marketing” is more accurate. My father worked in advertising for centuries, and only a few years ago did I realize that his work was about marketing.
- “Marketing is Sales.” Many people confuse the two. Sales and marketing are complementary functions, but not all marketers can sell, and not all salespeople can market.
- “Marketing is throwing parties.” In some organizations, that’s true, even if people sound cynical when they say it. Some industries rely on trade shows and large, splashy events to get attention. (Fortunately, it seems that tech trade shows are doing away with at least some of the sexist splashiness.)
- “Marketing is public relations.” Again, PR is part of marketing, but it’s not the whole thing. PR is one way — a rather expensive one anymore — of getting attention.
- “Marketing is starting the conversation.” Now that…that’s an idea.
What if marketing is what you do when you don’t have anything new to sell at the moment and your customers don’t need to buy anything at the moment? What if The Marketing Conversation is the background hum that keeps the relationship alive between transactions?
The writer and the marketing conversation
When you hire a marketing writer, does she know that her job is to tell a compelling story? A story that will either start or continue a conversation which, if all goes well, somebody in Sales will eventually monetize?
You assign a white paper or a case study to a writer. What do you get back: a surgeon’s report or a conversation-starter? What will the ideal reader do after reading it: close the browser window forever, or give you a call? (Or better yet, retweet it?) What else do you have in the campaign if the first piece doesn’t work? What else do you have in the campaign to keep the conversation going?
Think about marketing as a conversation. What’s more, think about working with writers who regard their work that way as well.
photo credit: Just Booked A Trip