Thursday, August 23, 2007

What are marketers to do, if customers won't accept our messages?

Karl Long at Experience Curve (and fellow Futurelabber) has produced a short but potent post on the shift from "traditional marketing and new conversational, people-driven marketing." (The impetus was the following observation from Hugh McLeod in his blog Gaping Void: "Ironies of Ironies: Companies are forever being told 'You no longer control the conversation', yet from what my buddies in the PR industry tell me, their industry is utterly thriving.)

Karl homes in on the concept of social equity. Through forums like blogs, companies and individuals can accrue value in the eyes of their customer base, post by post, link by link. (And there's no doubt that the rise of blogs has been a great asset to the PR industry. Blogs, even crappy, quasi-advertising-laden ones, are a lot of work and require communications talent.)

My two cents: since we marketers can "no longer control the conversation," we are instead listening to customers, tastemakers, retailers, early adopters, then reading the weak signals, removing the noise, amplifying, and sending the customers' message back out into the world--through blogs and other media. That takes far more creativity (and effort) than creating a catchy name, unique selling proposition, and tagline for a product, then slamming it home via advertising.