Conversation Marketing: The Conversation is the Thing

Christine Fife

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Where Shall We Share?: Locations for Getting Your Messages Out

Just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you should use it. I’m often asked (most regularly by people I meet at social gatherings who have a startup, but also by potential clients) the locations I would use to put their company’s messages out that will draw in new clients for them. Actually, they usually phrase it more in general terms like, “if a B2B company is going to use social media to promote our business what sites or platforms get the most return?”

If the person asking is someone I’ve just met and I have no knowledge of their industry or what they offer I usually say, “I have no idea.” This tends to make them think I have no knowledge of marketing. But the reality is that no one should have any idea what sites or social media outlets in general will get the most returns until after they’ve done their homework. What brings great results for one company may not bring any results for another, especially if you’re comparing companies based only on the common trait of being B2B businesses. As with any other business decision, you need to consider your company’s industry and goals, at the very least, and then determine what is important to your target audience and where do they talk and/or listen to that market conversation.

For many people, that group asking me these questions, they are expecting to hear a list of websites, communities, publications and/or social networks. More than likely, at least one of each of these different types of outlets will be a conversation location that they could see a good response from if they put their messages out there (or more specifically, if they engage in those locations by both sharing information but also listening and building relationships). But even if a marketing communications professional does already have background knowledge of the company’s industry and a strong understanding of their offerings, giving a list of locations they should participate in without a deeper dive of research would be irresponsible. Why would that be irresponsible? Well, what if that nice person whom you just met at a cocktail party goes off and takes your list of locations as gospel and then they don’t get a good response? They’re likely to then believe that the fault lies with those locations or social media or advertising/marketing in general.

I believe it is much more responsible and generous to say that you can’t give them just a list off the top of your head. Instead, a word of advice that you want to consider what your business goals and objectives are, then really understand your target audience and what they want and need (this is beyond demographics of an audience who generally buy the type of product/service you offer) and then research where those individuals/businesses participate in the market conversation. Consider the industry thought-leaders that are most likely to appeal to them and build a plan to develop relationships with those individuals and consider participating–listening, speaking, caring and sharing–in the locations where those influencers are participating.

There shouldn’t be a quick, easy list as the answer. If there was, more businesses would be more successful than they are and there would be more competition for every business in every industry.

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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.