Transforming Businesses into Socially Sustainable Systems

ExecuShift #2: From Marketing to Conversations

In 7 Required MindShifts, Executive coaching on October 30, 2009 at 12:25 am

This post is the second in a series explaining the 7 MindShifts Executives Must Make to Thrive in the Post Recession Reality and Create Socially Sustainable Systems.

Nearly everyday, blogs and newspapers and news anchors exclaim that the rules have changed, yet they rarely indicate which rules and how they have changed. This second shift that executives must make is probably one of the easiest because it’s happening everywhere right now. With the advent of Tivo and the constant noise and barrage of advertising, traditional marketing simply doesn’t have the payoffs or the brandbuilding power that it used to. And people who simply try to slap a marketing message onto social media sites are seeing poor if no returns – and occasionally outright distrust from their coveted audience. That’s because people want to have a conversation with you about your product or service – and often long before they ever buy from you.

The conversations are happening everywhere, and usually not on your company’s property, such as its website or blogs. There are blogs and sites to complain about your company, product or service (some examples include ripoffreport.compissedconsumer.com and complaintsboard.com). There are fan sites devoted specifically for particular companies, employees, products and services.

The recent Pepsi iPhone app is a great example of marketing gone wrong and a conversation taking over that may damage the company’s reputation. What if Pepsi engaged its audience before releasing the app? Or while building the app?

These conversations cannot be owned and they are very difficult to manage. As a company or executive, you must engage and participate. If you must, trying to shape or influence the conversation requires respect and patience.

I’m not recommending that you stop marketing – it is still an essential tool for getting visibility and building brands, but marketing has been surpassed by engaging in a conversation with your current, prospective and past customers. Marketing is now simply a part of the conversation.

If you don’t engage in the conversation, it will simply happen without you – and while that may work for some companies, and scare the hell out of most executives (we all know that you like control – that’s why you have your jobs after all!) – it’s simply part of the new reality that you must wrap your mind around. And participate in. Take a deep breath and jump into the conversation. Are you marketing or engaging in conversations?

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