Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Conversation Piece.

Now don't get me wrong, I signed up to the Cluetrain seven years ago and fully agree that markets are conversations, but I've noted a recent tendency for conversation to be lauded regardless of its nature. There's a moment at the very of this short video (from Hugh's Hallam Foe project) that crystallised the whole debate for me.

The cameraman - a relative newcomer to this blogging thing - complains that the discussion has become a rambling conversation and wants to steer it back to something else while a veteran blogger responds that when things become a conversation it gets interesting.

In my eyes, both are simultaneously right and wrong.

The democratisation of open conversation rightly threatens the sometimes dubious credentials and entrenched views of executives, politicians and media and opens up huge new opportunities. But, just because everyone has the right and now (to some extent) the forum in which to express an opinion, it doesn't mean that opinion has any validity or value and we should never forget that.

From a marketing perspective, you must, must, must encourage multiple conversations, but a vital new skill lies in mediating that conversation without influencing it. While it's conceivable that you might censor some valid input by doing this (though I doubt it), the benefit derived from being able to navigate through the noise must outweigh this.

3 Comments:

Blogger Johnnie M said...

Hi John... I agree with the whole yin/yang thing. But what would "mediating that conversation without influencing it" look like? Maybe it's more about whether you notice your influence or not?

7:38 AM, October 09, 2006  
Blogger john dodds said...

Hi Johnnie

A cross between Jeremy Paxman and a market trader perhaps?

I think you have to start from the position of knowing what you want to get from the conversation and thus realise what elements are drawing you too far off-line, but be open enough to acknowledge if the conversation is showing you that your original assumptions were wrong.

It is a real nuanced skill but I also think it flows almost automatically from the sincere decision to open up a conversation. I hope that's not being overly naive, but my main concern is to avoid conversations that ramble on and on. Bottom line, we don't want to replicate corporate meeting syndrome.

1:14 PM, October 09, 2006  
Blogger Roland Kennedy said...

I shot the video and the motives for interrupting were very simple and nothing to do with the conversation in hand. I needed an edit point for the video so I provoked the people I was filming into giving me one. In the process I ended up with an interesting discussion point.

Hopefully the skills of directing an unruly drunken mob will be transferrable to writing a decent blog!

4:46 AM, October 13, 2006  

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