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Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Marketing is about conversations. "So what does that mean," people ask me? How do you take the concept and apply it practically to everyday marketing?

Conversations are by their nature friendly -- people listening and chatting with an interest in the other person.

So maybe one pragmatic way to reshape marketing activities and programs is to make them friendlier. Friendly. What a small but big concept.

Here’s how various dictionaries define friendliness:
Approachable and accessible

Friendly people and companies listen because they’re really interested in what people have to say. They make it easy for people to chat with them. They share what they’re hearing about new ideas, what’s happening that might be helpful, what they’re learning. They don’t lecture or promote but converse in the best sense of the word, which comes from Latin con versare – to turn or dance together. They ask questions – and make it easy for others to do the same in a welcoming kind of way. They’re not judgmental, but offer sincere advice if a friend is doing something dumb.

The Wikipedia says that “Value that is found in friendships is often the result of a friend demonstrating on a consistent basis:

-- The tendency to do what is best for you.

-- Mutual understanding

-- Sympathy and empathy

-- Honesty, particuarly in situations where it may difficult for others to speak the truth

What if we reframed our marketing thinking around one simple idea: to be more friendly? Yes, it sounds Pollyanna-ish, but many companies who get the “marketing as conversations concept” exude friendliness. In their people, actions, business practices, and in their style of oral and written marketing communications.

Think about Southwest Airlines or Virgin Atlantic (vs. the unfriendly United, American et al). Zappos shoes vs. the big department stores. Whole Foods vs. Stop & Shop. And all the small local businesses we’re so loyal to because of friendliness.

It’s hard to change, but friendliness seems like an easy way to start. Thoughts?

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Blogger Olivier Blanchard said...


Once you've established that you are there to help them (and not to sell them something), you're in a position to really do wonderful things together.

1:43 AM  

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