Wednesday, June 4

Blogs for Marketing purposes

For a while I have been advocating making companies' Internet presences more interactive by the use of blogs, wiki and forums. Marketing staff are always receptive but management are often resistant. The topic has come up so often that I now have a standard spiel.
Web sites that publish reader’s comments increase customer engagement. As do sites that communicate in a more personal style (e.g. in the form of a blog).These more interactive sites can be used to

  • Gather customer preferences and needs
  • Rehabilitate a reputation of arrogance and ignoring customer’s preferences
  • Create a more personal two way dialog with customers instead of a breakdown into impersonal gathering and disseminating information.
  • Build community
  • Create customer buy in
    • Customer’s criticisms will be more constructive and their attitude more positive if they believe they are part of the process
There is often resistance to these ideas usually centered on losing control of the process. But losing control of the process is not the worst thing that could happen. The worst thing is to be totally ignored.
There is a misconception about where the power is in a conversation. The power is with the listener not the speaker. If the listener is thinking about the shopping list or what they are going to say next then the speaker is raising the air temperature of the room and little more. It follows that trying to keep control of the situation by keeping an iron grip on what is said is a foolhardy exercise. You increase your comfort as you speed your way to disaster. Your ears are soothed by the sound of your own voice as it echoes in an empty room.

The company that has a one way presence on the net has no user comments on their blog (because they have no blog). No user additions to their FAQ (because it is not Wikified). No discussion threads in their forum (because their customers are too busy talking behind their backs where they can not hear them). If someone posts some vitriol in a comment on their blog at least they have the commenter's attention and the beginnings of a discussion. This is better than the 'chirp chirp' sound of silence.