Saturday, September 22, 2007

Want to 'converse' with companies?

I have been thinking about the recent article by Elinor Mills of CNET entitled "Want to 'converse with advertisers? Me neither" which was written as a response to the recent Federated Media conference, CM Summit. Elinor makes a good point in observing that if all companies do is insinuate advertising copy into social media, there efforts will fail. But she doesn't go far enough in discussing the changing relationship between companies and the markets in which they participate.

Elinor can hardly be blamed. The Federated conference continued a long history of marketers talking about what the have done or will do TO the people they are trying to attract or retain as customers. But there were some bright spots in the conference agenda and there are some bright spots in the market and it would be a shame to believe that all companies want to do is stick their advertising into another new medium.

There are actually some companies out there that understand that they have an opportunity to reinvent themselves -- they understand that the future in a post-industrial economy is creating a great experience -- which means a relationship -- which means listening and participating WITH not broadcasting TO the people that used to be called their customers.

The fact that we all have a voice now means that successful companies will learn to listen and talk with the people who are in their markets -- customers, employees, vendors, and even competitors. There will be more transparency, more accountability, and a higher quality experience around the best companies and their products or services.

Product development processes will change. Customer service will change. Vendor and supply chain management will change. Oh yeah, and advertising and public relations will change.

Who wants to 'converse' with companies? I DO! In fact, I can't wait 'till they actually start listening. There are so many things I want to tell them about what doesn't work, what is frustrating, even what they are doing right.

So don't through the conversation baby out with the advertising bath water.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Terrific Video (new homepage)

Another "placeholder" web page has gone up at The Conversation Group and with it a really terrific video made by our friend (and member of our BOD) Peter Hirshberg. Peter interviewed Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun Microsystems, on blogging. This is a snippet of the conversation which specifically touches on the question of brands "controlling" their image in the market. Summary? In Jonathan's words, "Control is an Illusion"