Conversation Marketing: The Conversation is the Thing

Christine Fife

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Conversing with Customers vs. Writing Right to Them

What the heck does this post title mean, is probably what you’re asking yourself, right? Well, my intention for this post is to raise the topic of being “conversational” in your communications with customers and prospects vs. writing perfect, grammatically correct informational conveyances. For that information, I recommend a few writing classes with text books on proper grammar.

This post is about writing communications that help people feel as if your engaging them in conversation. For sure, you need to be understood–the lessons from Eats, Shoots & Leaves shouldn’t be forgotten–but nothing says you have to sound like an automated phone tree system in everything you communicate. By now, most people on earth know that the first thing you do when you reach an automated voice is to press “0″ if you’d rather talk to a person. What do you suppose people do with written communications that sound that way? What do you do with them? Uh, delete? File under important in the trash can?

Let’s say you just signed up for some online service and you’re getting the auto email with important details about your account. Which of these statements would more likely keep you reading long enough to realize you should keep track of this information rather than quickly clicking delete?

  1. Dear Ms. ‘Whomever’,
    Thank you for registering at ‘Company Whatever’. We are very pleased to have you as a customer. Our services are meeting the needs of companies all over the world, with more features and options being added regularly. Please make note of the following account information in your records so that our customer support team can better assist you should you have any questions.
  2. Hello Jennifer,
    Your registration is complete–thanks for joining! Your account details for ‘Product Whatever’ are listed here, they’ll help you save time if you need assistance from us or our global community of users.

I’m sure you get the point I’m trying to make here. Of course, you want to be respectful of your audience, so this exact example may not be appropriate depending on what type of product you offer. But… food for thought–try considering all your communications and how they might be edited for easier reading, to make your company more approachable, to engage your audience, to illustrate that you care about them, etc.

Your communication pieces have a goal/purpose, right? (If they don’t, why are you sending them?) So, start by reviewing the goal and determine if a conversational approach would help you reach that goal. Staying with the example above, check to see how often customer support encounters people who don’t know their account details. Change the wording on the account details message and see if that number improves.

With the explosion of social media use, companies been moving toward a conversational tone, often by accident. The nature of social media is being “social”. Sounding like a dictionary or grammar book is far from being social. We don’t speak that way, so we don’t always need to write that way. Again, you can be understood, even if you’re writing is informal or doesn’t meet every grammatical rule.

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More Stories By Christine Fife

As I drove off to college I never would have guessed I would end up here! But it’s been a fantastic journey. My career has been richly diverse giving me an advantage over marketers who are siloed into niche positions. I strive to be a true Renaissance person—I love to learn about everything and trying new things comes naturally. My career has been no different; I’ve successfully launched enterprise software and medical device development startups, improved communications processes for the regulatory department of a major financial exchange, increased client business and product development for several international exchange program companies and founded an international educational non-profit organization. My master’s degree in Integrated Marketing from Golden Gate University gave me a broad understanding of traditional marketing best-practices, but my BA in theater gave me the skills to understand how people communicate with one another and the importance of promoting a brand in a voice that is right for the audience.