The problem with 'conversational marketing'

This article from the e-Consultancy blog struck a cord with me, although my issues with conversational marketing are much simpler.

As I writer I’ve always been seduced by the idea of generating compelling content for vibrant two-way conversations rather than monotonous bullet points. But I’ve always been a tad skeptical too, since many of my marketing contacts seem very removed from their customer.

Case in point. A couple days ago I was in a meeting about new collateral with a client when we got to talking about contact with customers. I was trying to get them to identify the true benefits of the features of the new products. After a while they confessed that they didn’t really know what their customers wanted, hence their problem with naming the benefits. Customer contact was the realm of sales and support staff, not marketing.

For the client in question, we supposed to be leading the company’s transition to value-based selling by writing collateral that reflects the company’s keen understanding of its customer’s needs. In fact, to be honest, we have no idea what the customer want — only what the salesforce tells us they want (which suspiciously is always datasheets and catalogs). We can guess. We can surmise. but until sales lets marketing get closer to the customer, the only real conversation will be between buyer and seller during sales negotiation — and that’s too late.

Many companies aren’t ready to move into conversational marketing because their marketing departments are too far away from the front line.

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