Food for thought: marketing as a conversation…

mktgI’m constantly on-the-hunt for new ways of doing things. The first place I came upon thinking about new ways was Doc Searls discussions about ‘marketing as a conversation’ vs. one way broad-or-narrowcasting messages to an audience without any feedback loop.

A great introduction to this idea (or set of ideas) is in Doc and his colleagues’ book The Cluetrain Manifesto. Well worth a read.

Today Doc linked to a Small Business Branding Manifesto from Michael Pollock as one guiding set of ideas on this subject. Also worth a read and great food for thought.

With so many people depending upon the ‘net for communication — and especially gathering information on product before they buy — it will be very interesting to see how marketing as a discipline morphs over time to accomodate people’s new ways of making buying decisions, molding and changing products themselves, and ensuring their voices are heard (other than simply voting-with-their-pocketbooks by not buying).

Besides all of the review sites that test and rate products and services, there is a new “back channel” comprised of bloggers who are posting rage, feedback and/or observations about product and services. For many years I’ve been very interested in beta programs for software….download and try it and give user feedback to the company or group developing the software so they can make it better. It’s a great way to put a product through its paces. But the intriguing part of this is finished product and how even *it* is kinda, sorta beta and being increasingly influenced by the instant observations and opinions that fly around the Web by bloggers.

A great example of this is how the cellular telephony providers are allegedly forcing mobile phone manufacturer’s to cripple Bluetooth (supposedly so users can’t use the cell network for hooking up their laptop for data access). I understand why they’re doing this (to preserve their bandwidth and upsell stuff like ringtones vs. allowing PC users to Bluetooth transmit midi files of their own creation to their mobile phones). A lot of people are upset about this as evidenced by this and this and this. I haven’t yet seen any manufacturer respond to the base of upset customers, but if it impacts adoption of particular Bluetooth-enabled phones, they will.

I fully expect that this new model of the masses weighing in on products and services — in effect engaging in a marketing dialogue with the creators and deliver’s of these products and services — to fundamentally alter and shape what ends up on real or virtual store shelves.

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About Steve Borsch

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