You would be surprised at the number of meetings I've taken lately where the marketing folks are in obvious denial of the facts of the situation. I show them how folks are talking online on blogs, message boards, social networking sites and other communities about their brands, their products, their categories and their experiences doing business with their companies. Why don't they talk back? Answers most commonly given...
- Legal won't let us.
- We can't control the message.
- We're conservative.
I show them the message board posts where people are asking for product recommendations, the blog posts where someone lauds the new product they just launched and has a few suggestions for improving it further. I show them the blog post from the guy looking to address a problem for which their product is the solution. I show them how to find these posts easily and quickly, so they can answer within an appropriate period of time.
Still, many of them can't answer.
Folks, if you have an entire department (marketing) that is ostensibly charged with communicating with customers, and another department (legal) prevents them from doing so, what good is either of these departments? The fact is that legal is preventing you from doing your job.
You can't control the message? You're right. I don't know what gave you the idea that you have been in control of the message until now. The folks on Fark made fun of your ads last week. Thousands of people have posted about your products in an unfavorable light. What makes you think you've ever had control? Maybe you did before the Internet. In any case, you're telling me you have control, I'm showing you how you're not, and still you look me in the face and tell me you're in control.
You're conservative? So's Michelle Malkin. And as much as I abhor her views, at least she engages in dialogue with her audience. Conservatism is no excuse for building walls and refusing to talk to the people who (might) buy your product.
I hate to be confrontational, so when folks tell me they're not prepared to entertain the notion of Conversational Marketing, then I'll move on to do business with companies that will.