“Markets are conversations – talk is cheap, silence is fatal” – from the cluetrain manifesto – Levine, Locke, Searls & Weinberger
The statement above embodies for many the changed landscape of marketing. Bigco started to embrace this over the course of the last few years and now it’s time for Smallco to aggressively do the same.
This year’s next position for many small business should be a conversation officer – someone in charge of the story.
That officer could be employed to create, curate and sometimes manipulate the conversations that must be coming from your company. In the broad sense the duties of this position should include
Content – this one is pretty simple – full fledged blogger, article publisher, white paper creator and education based marketing materials and webinar creator.
Context – this one is a little trickier, but your conversation officer should employ RSS technology to aggregate and filter the content and conversations going on in every online and offline corner and package it to make it more useful for your organization and your prospects.
Connection – your CCO should be in charge of developing ways to include your customers and partners in the building of your business for mutual benefit. Your CCO should be in charge of the conversations your customers are having after they buy, as they decide to buy more and in the process of becoming a referral source.
Community – your conversations must eventually come together as community. You must facilitate conversation among your prospects and customers, introduce partners and find ways to co-create value. Intentionally hosting the conversation your customers are having with each other is a must.
The primary toolset for this new position is indeed social media, but don’t neglect traditional forms of conversation as well. twitter, Facebook, blogging and RSS must supplement phone calls, lunch and handwritten notes to produce the ultimate, full-bodied, authentic, value-based conversation.
Perhaps you can’t yet invest in a full-time employee to carry out this position, add it to the org chart and start developing the position, because it’s no longer an optional function.