August 05, 2010

The Conversation: Is Anyone Listening?

For the past few years, the marketing and advertising industries have been obsessed with the idea that marketing is a "conversation" and that consumers want a "relationship" with brands and companies.

Of course, being the dick that I am, I've gone out of my way to ridicule this obsession.

What if I said to all you conversation/relationship maniacs that most companies...
  • Dramatically overestimate the extent to which their customers actually want to talk to them
  • Running your company as if customers want to talk to you isn't just expensive, it's potentially undermining your efforts to build longer-term loyalty
You'd probably say that I was being the same ignorant Luddite I've always been and that I just don't get it.

But here's the thing. Those two points above -- they're not mine. They are word-for-word quotes from a recent article in the Harvard Business Review via the Kellogg School of Management called Why Your Customers Don't Want To Talk To You.

It questions the whole religion of "conversation/relationship" and provides a lot of evidence that most customers would much rather not talk with you and would prefer to access a self-service option rather than deal with your company or your people.

In one of my many rants on this topic, I sarcastically said that consumers in the new fantasyland of marketing...
...have all the time in the world to develop relationships with brands. And then, when they're finished building these relationships, they go on line to social media sites and have conversations about them. It's a wonderful world. Someday I'd like to visit it.
Or as the article in the Harvard Business Review puts it, "....maybe customers are shifting toward self service because they don't want a relationship with companies."

Here's what people want. They want products that work well, look nice, taste good and are reasonably priced from companies that treat them fairly.

Is that so freaking difficult to understand?

All this conversation/relationship bullshit is just a distraction.

I'll be speaking in St. Louis on August 18th. The topic will be "The Three Most Annoying Trends In Advertising." If you'd like to attend, click here.


Luis Garcia said...

Very good point

Luis Garcia said...

Very good point. I had such a hard time with the 'Cluetrain Manifesto zealots' some years ago supporting this very same arguments...