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August 18, 2007

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Hey Chris,

Thanks for your comment and sorry for the belated reply. I guess I'm realizing how time-consuming conversational marketing is ;)

Anyway, I think we're on the same page here and have the same intentions. I guess I've gotten a little bit too hung up on the semantic argument, which is - you're right - a no-win situation.

I guess my point was that in order to establish a new marketing practice you have to accept and apply some of the traditional marketing conventions, such as "giving it a catchy name" (a.k.a. branding, simply put). That's why I feel using the term "conversational marketing" is fine, and I'm not too concerned about its abuse by "unscrupulous mercenaries." I may be naive but I believe that most of those consumers who engage in conversations with companies are smart enough to distinguish "exploitative" one-way marketing in diguise from true dialogues. Conversational marketing will regulate itself - only those who who truly listen will survive.

Best,
Tim

I appreciate the time you took to add your thoughts to this - I am trying to figure out the best way to make a bigger point about the evolution of marketing and communications, so every point really helps me move my thinking along. I

To be clear though, I was not condemning the channels for communication in my post - I was trying to (unsuccessfully it seems in this case) establish that the idea of market conversations is not about the tools and channels insomuch as it is about a philosophy you bring to using them. When you are really listening and participating in your market conversations, it is no longer the sort of marketing that has become the equivalent of pushing unwanted messages into people's minds, but a return to what I think of as real marketing, which is about creating a value match between a company's products and services and those people who will get the most benefit from it.

As for thinking of it like a 'branding exercise' that is an interesting perspective, though unintentional on my part. I have been thinking about the power of language for a long time - part of the reason for my post was an attempt to differentiate what is happening from what the public perception of marketing (and marketers) is today. I guess you could think of it as a brand, because it relates to the values behind the practices but I wasn't thinking of it in that way.

I am not so much worried about the branding of conversations as I am the potential for the intention behind the idea being corrupted by marketers who miss the point and hold onto their exploitative ways. I really want to avoid having this very important idea become co-opted by unethical practitioners. I hope that the practice of Marketing and Communications will move beyond its often sullied image. Perhaps those of us who are working hard to do the right thing can all garner the respect we deserve for serving the better interests of the market, rather than being seen as unscrupulous mercenaries solely interested in greedily hording profits without concern for the people who buy what we are selling.

This is of course a much larger concept than one comment or blog post, but let me be clear that profit is good and necessary. The problem is that too many marketing folks are trying to sell crappy products from crappy companies to people who don't really need them or won't be able to use them. If a discussion around the language we use in emerging practices like conversational marketing can lead to a few more people understanding how things need to be different, than I will be happy - even if I end up taking a few arrows in the process from smart people who disagree...

PS - As you point out, David shares my concern about the bigger issue I am trying to address, though he does not have an interest in the semantic argument. The semantic battle is a no-win situation as this and some other conversations have proven since writing my post - you get attacked on the language and the important point you are trying to make gets hidden in the rubble of the battlefield

PPS - if you only hang out with marketing people, you won't know how a large portion of the world perceives the profession of marketing - if you need to look around for an example of this problem, see what the developer have to say about marketing people after a meeting. While many tech companies have solved for this problem, I assure you that many more have not. All too often, we are looked at as clueless noobs who make promises that can't be kept

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