Having a conversation is something we do all the time, a part of everyday life. However, the power of the humble conversation as a marketing tool is being re-evaluated by marketers around the world as they are starting to see what an integral part of a communications strategy it can be – especially when it comes to broadcast media. AdWeek stated that
“the lack of strong scripting creates a spontaneous flow, which leads listeners to repeat these conversations to their peers, their friends and their families, creating their own versions of the discussion and making new connections.”
This is particularly applicable to radio where conversations have the opportunity to last for longer periods of time compared to TV or video, meaning that in turn they become more natural and consequently draw listeners in. So, let’s take a look at conversation and how you can use it to your advantage in your content strategy!
Start by asking yourself what you would prefer to listen to, a monologue or a discussion between two people? Exactly. A dynamic back and forth between two people is inviting as an observer and this rule also applies to conversations between a broadcast presenter and their guest – it creates engaging content for listeners. Scientists have also proven how well we listen when engaged in conversation – speakers wait just an average of 200 milliseconds before responding – an incredible feat if you consider that it takes 600 milliseconds to retrieve a word from our brain,
“this means that we have to start planning our responses in the middle of a partner’s turn…We continuously predict what the rest of a sentence will contain…this work shows that even the most chronic interrupter is really listening.”
What does this mean for your audience? It means that as a consequence they get brought into discussions too and can become as engaged and passionate as those holding the conversation, the real bonus is that it helps listeners focus on the content at hand.
The knock-on effect is that the marketing community is starting to take note of what a useful tool the conversation can be and have even coined the term ‘conversation marketing’. At a basic level, conversation marketing is a completely grassroots promotional tool, think of it as what shopkeepers do on a daily basis with their customers. Those everyday chats where they gain invaluable insight, feedback and knowledge about their customers likes, dislikes and habits. For you it means stripping back and interacting offline to gain insight into your listeners, that way you’ll be able to boost your followers online. By connecting with and understanding your audience, you will be in a much better position to create content which interests them.
In communications terms it is another form of content marketing, something which you are no doubt already doing, so it’s not about reinventing what you already do, it’s simply about refocusing it. Forbes has defined it as:
“a term that describes a feedback-oriented approach to driving customer engagement, building brand loyalty and, of course, positively impacting the bottom line.”
Most of the techniques you employ for conversation marketing are the same you would in traditional marketing, you just use them in a different way to obtain different results, for example: e-mail marketing and surveys. What’s different is that with traditional print, TV or radio marketing you send it out into the world, often without gaining feedback – the aim of conversation marketing is to gain a response. What you should be aware of though is that it isn’t about reeling in the big numbers, it’s about being specific and targeted and reaching smaller crowds. Ian Lurie says:
“conversation marketing ensures that you know your audience, target them with an appropriate message, and then observe their response and adjust that message accordingly.”
The idea of quality over quantity should be seen as anything but limiting, the real positive of conversation marketing is that it can be used on both a B2B and B2C level with broadcast media. Use the method to create organic conversations which in the long-term will better your show, for example use twitter to ask listeners their thoughts on a topic or invite guests and brands to be involved with your show. Obviously, this level of activity requires an investment of time but in turn it will create relationships and offer you ‘insider’ knowledge which will allow you to create content which your audience wants; bear in mind this will require you to be flexible, observing and adjusting your content plan as guided by your audience.
Conversation marketing might be a new tool in a broadcaster’s ammunition but it’s one which deserves its own space alongside the other more well known forms of content marketing. It’s something which the business big guns, such as Amazon and Google, have already got down to a T, making it extremely easy for their customers to engage with them. Having your listeners’ trust is a golden ticket in broadcasting terms and conversation marketing allows you to do this for free on so many different levels – so what are you waiting for?