Mark Oehlert – Engaging in conversation dynamics

I think the answer then gets to be something like what David Weinberger and (?) were on to with the Clue Train Manifesto is that you have conversations with your customers, that if the primary communication dynamic that you have with your customer is one in which you’re just pushing them information; whether it be marketing data or marketing information or whatever, then, no, you’re never going to really get to know them.

If instead you have conversations with them and that’s a totally different dynamic, so you look at somebody like Bob Lutz, who was the former Vice Chairman of General Motors, and he started a blog to talk about General Motors’ cars. From a standpoint, not of a vice chairman of General Motors but from someone who loves cars. In the first month or so of him having this blog up, he actually had to work really hard to convince people that he was Bob Lutz, the vice chairman of General Motors, because those guys don’t do that sort of thing. So he spent a month working, not on the topic, but on convincing people that he was there for an authentic conversation. And I think, we can do those same things. And it’s really easy.

I know, I had a problem with one of my cable providers, people who provide our cable television at my house. My son went downstairs, and there was a huge tragedy as he couldn’t find Cartoon Network. It wasn’t where it used to be. And so I’m trying to find it. And I actually tweeted something about “Way to go, Comcast. It’s Saturday morning and you took cartoons away from my son. Thanks a lot”. And within about an hour, I got a tweet back from Comcast Help Desk, saying, “You must not have seen our new channel line up. Cartoon Network is at Channel 443”. And that wasn’t what I call a really deep conversation, but they talked to me like I was a human. They got me the answer that I needed in record time. I didn’t have to actually call anybody. And so that gave me a really much deeper appreciation for them as a company than if I’d have to call a Help Desk and they just said, “Wooh, didn’t you get the flier?” And I said, “well, if I got the flier, I wouldn’t be calling you”. And I would have to go through all of these things.

But instead, they took a much, more conversational path. And I think we need to look at the dynamics of how we think about our customers. So what’s the kind of social dynamic that we’re going to engage in. And if we’re going to engage in typical marketing, then we’re going to get one level of collaboration with our customers. If we engage in conversation dynamics, then we’re going to get much different level of collaborations.

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