Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Getting Back on the Speaking Gig Horse

I was asked to speak to a group of Healthcare CMOs about social media and marketing. In fact, I just had a prep call with them and I have lots of thoughts floating in my head right now.

In particular, I found myself really pushing hard on the distinction between traditional marketing and "new marketing."

When I talk about "new marketing," I'm referring to "conversations" and building customer communities. I've been thinking lately about the distinction between the two, and while to some of us it's fairly obvious, to others it's not so clear.

Traditional marketing includes direct mail, telephone, advertising and more. It also now includes ads on social media sites like Facebook and Myspace. It even includes in my own mind, much of what we call viral marketing. To me, traditional marketing is all about manipulating your customers to get them to buy your crap (that's my cynical, I'm wearing my conversation hat definition and I'm sticking to it!). BTW, traditional marketing extends to buying keywords on Google as well in case you were wondering.

The conversation stuff is less and less about "marketing" and manipulation. It's about having a dialogue with your customers, talking to them and with them about "stuff."

Stuff being... whatever they want to talk about. Even if that stuff isn't what you want them to talk about. If you try to control what they talk about, you've jumped the shark on the conversation and are now not building a community, but doing traditional marketing.

This tends to make it hard to distinguish true communities and communities that are just posing. At Microsoft for example, the CIO Network encourages folks to talk about whatever it is they want to talk about, even if that means taking a swipe at Microsoft or one of our products. I think it's great when one of our members has enough conviction and courage to bash away on our site. In my mind, that's telling us something important. It's having a customer tell us that he wants us to do better, and he's telling us how!

Traditional marketing can never deliver those sorts of responses to you. Ever.

The problem of course, is that you really have to commit to this idea of a conversation and not let your ego or your legal department (ha!) get in the way.

In any case, my talk to these CMOs will attempt to first make this distinction. Then I'll talk specifically about creating a culture of experimentation, success stories and a framework for how to think about conversational marketing. I'll also touch on how to add social media channels to your traditional marketing mix... although that's a topic that frankly, bores me to death. I'll try to load slides up on my slideshare site.

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