Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Conversational Marketing Summit Recap

I spent yesterday afternoon at the Conversational Marketing Summit and here were my key takeaways:

The Creative Destruction of Advertising

  • Chris Peterson of Chautauqua Communications explains that we need to rethink our entire process for marketing focusing more on content.
    • The new process includes: product + marketplace + audience - with that you create a content strategy which is then deployed through your media plan, distribution channels and creative.
  • Eric Vidal of WebEx (a Cisco Company), shared some of the content types that worked for WebEx including product placements, videos, web seminars, reports, podcasts and radio/TV. Here are some of their lessons learned:
    • Integrating the content was key in their execution.
    • Podcasts need to be short (7 min or less)
    • You can't stage user generated content - customers need instant gratification
    • Sometimess pretty doesn't work - plain text driven banners on blogs worked better as they were seen more as integrated versus interruptive
    • Customer videos were popular - when they were less than 4 minutes they had a 90% watch to completion rate
    • Don't script customer videos - it needs to be more natural (but you can call then and seed them with ideas)

The Conversation Economy - the Third Wave of the Interface Culture

  • John Battelle, CEO, Federated Media talks about the three interfaces of information:
    1. Back Office (c:/) - this is when interoffice conversations started happening
    2. Front & Back Office (the Internet) - where employees are 'messaging' to customer on the web
    3. Talk with Customers (search) - where customers go to get information
    4. I would add a 4th interface where we have just scratched the surface (social networks) - allowing customers to talk to each other

  • John talked about how much search engines love conversation - he brought up a search page for a car as an example and only 2 of the 6 links on the first page led you to the company site -- all others were 'conversation' sites including blogs and forums. This made me think that if you do a few searches like this on your keywords it's a good way to find out what conversations you should be joining in on.
  • Packaged vs. Conversation Media
  • 'We Suck Less Campaign' -- John had a great idea for the cell phone provider who's ready to be transparent. No one is happy with their cell phone carrier for one reason or another but cell phone carriers are still trying to send us messages "fewest dropped calls" "largest network" -- either way the real story is being told by the consumers. John's challenge to a service provider is to come up with a map that allows users to pinpoint dead spots then to have the provider start to fix the spots that are most complained about -- and if they can't be fixed due to city regulations they can explain this and can empower the customers to help by telling them who they need to reach out to. I think it's genius! But as Sarah Fay from Carat and Isobar later said, "the ability to execute ideas is severely lacking."

A Conversation with Scott Cook

  • Scott Cook, the Founder and Chairman of the Executive Committee, Intuit stated the obvious - focus on your customers. However Intuit has an interesting way of doing this - they actually recruit from their customer service organization to be part of the development team each year since these people are closest to the customer and have the best understanding of their challenges.
  • Scott brings things into reality when he says "the best way to kill a brand is to drive people to a bad experience" - he talks about BeingGirl and Tax Almanac as good examples where
    the user experience that fits the target audience.

Reinventing the Audience

  • Sarah points out that one of the differences between digital media is that you may be starting something that may never end - it's like planting a tree and letting it live and grow. This also means "trusting the conversation to play out as it would in the offline world."
  • Has Yahoo been listening after all? Jeff Weiner, EVP at Yahoo! talks about their plans to integrate their sites to provide more value to their users. He also talks about interesting ways they have monetized some of their sites through product integration. For example Nikon sponsored a 'Stunning Gallery for Flickr users and Yahoo Answers allows companies to become 'experts' in particular topic areas through sponsorship (I think they beat LinkedIn Answers to this one).

Meet the Ninjas
I can't say I understand these guys but apparently they created a video blog that has been wildly successful. This video pretty much sums up their presence at the event:

More to come ...

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