Conversation Marketing: The Conversation is the Thing

Christine Fife

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Marketer or Conversationalist: Why Not Marketing Conversationalist?

With the appearance of the Internet the way companies do business and the way they market themselves changed dramatically. And with the explosion of social media platforms things have changed again. Companies now have to view their business and marketing strategies in real-time. No more simply “putting a stake in the ground” for an advertising campaign that just talks at people. Companies need to consider how people will react, what they’re saying right now and how to respond to them asap for anything that might come up–good, bad or insane.

Marketing is no longer just a one-directional spouting of info, adjectives and rhetoric. Businesses are looking at how to engage with their audience and hold two-directional conversations with customers, influencers and prospects. Marketing Professionals need to reflect this new concept of marketing in their work, ideas, and yes, their title! When people ask me what I do for a living, I say I’m a Marketing Conversationalist.

What is a conversationalist? The definition from Dictionary.com is:

“a person who enjoys and contributes to good conversation; an interesting person in conversation.”

The definition of marketing, as approved by the American Marketing Association Board of Directors, is:

“the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

Social Media Guru just doesn’t cut it as a profession. Marketing Conversationalists, however, understand traditional marketing (i.e. branding, advertising, promotion, PR, etc. and the processes and delivery method options), but they also understand how to integrate these practices into a world of real-time communication. Social media is a great innovation, but it’s simply one channel, one option for being part of the market conversation. A Marketing Conversationalist is familiar with social media platforms, influencer relations practices and most importantly, they understand how to use all of this to Listen, Speak, Care, Share and Build Relationships as a means of participation in the market conversation.

So which would you rather hire to work on your company’s marketing?

Conversation Universe image.

Marketing Conversationalists look at marketing in terms of a two-directional conversation.

  1. Marketing Professional: “One that sells goods or services in or to a market, especially one that markets a specified commodity.” Definition a la TheFreeDictionary.com.
  2. Social Media Guru: An expert (definition of a guru) on “any tool or service that uses the internet to facilitate conversations.” Social media definition from a Brian Solis blog post.
    Or, one I think is certainly more funny: “The Ability to trash talk and bad mouth a company or organizations initiative on social media without ever have done anything of importance on social media themselves.” Courtesy of a Jonas Klit Nielsen blog post.
  3. Marketing Conversationalist: A person who understands and enjoys Listening, Speaking, Caring, Sharing and Building Relationships within a market conversation, and is knowledgeable of activities, processes, delivery and intake tools, and human conversation dynamics to generate awareness, increase sales and increase customer retention/participation for a product, service and/or company.

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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.