Conversations are happening and your competitors are involved.’ They are tweeting, they are blogging, they are using LinkedIn groups, and Facebook pages. Where are you? Are you a part of this conversation or are you sitting in the corner letting others win the game?
A blog entry by Andre Yee on ebizQ, makes a fairly good point (http://tinyurl.com/qd2s2t):
“Marketing used to be all about crafting a message, shaping it and directing it to a target audience. It was closed, controlled and transactional. From the corporation’s perspective it was ‘we talked, you listened’. It was one to many (one vendor to many prospects). It was uni-directional (no talking back!). But that’s not the case anymore. Marketers are no longer in control.”
Yee’s article goes on to talk about how businesses can only be reactive to the dialogue. I do agree that we have to watch and react; however, I believe we have to try to influence and to lead the conversation.
Fifteen years ago I had a manager who said to me, “Read the trade magazines, find the articles that are interesting and send them to our CEO – it is a great way to get noticed.” If the CEO found the article interesting he would hand that article off to our Public Relations department and ask them to get engaged with the reporter. In essence he wanted to make sure that where ever there was a conversation about something relevant to our business we were engaged and hopefully we were influencing it.
I also believe that we have even more control over the dialogue than Yee suggests.
On his blog at http://www.optimizingtheweb.com, Toma Bonciu writes about the benefit that Twitter provides when you can easily identify the location of dialogue, and engage in it, and even influence it. He promotes re-tweeting as the way to get engaged in the conversations. It not only seems supportive of the writer but, if noticed will build awareness of you and your organization. Once you are engaged early, you can influence by contributing to the conversation.
LinkedIn Groups are center points for conversations as well. For example, if you provide marketing services and you are not actively following conversations in the eMarketing Association on LinkedIn then, you may be missing vital talk that can help you find that next big deal.
So when Andre Yee says that the conversations are happening, he makes an excellent point regarding the sales process. If you are not engaged in the places where the conversations are happening you will not be able to re-act to them or even shape them. Indeed, this is every sales person’s nightmare. When the conversation moves out of a sales person’s control, the sale is easily lost.
The tough part is that influencing conversations is a big task and cannot be accomplished through a marketing team alone. It is an effort that requires the help of every employee and affiliate of the company from the CEO down to the administrative assistant. Your employees and affiliates can be your syndicates and your receptors. They are already on the social media platforms where conversations occur. Empower them with your messages and encourage them all to be part of the social web.
Someone out there is talking about you. Is it you?