August 14, 2019

Can We Talk? How to Engage in a True Conversation with your Audience.

By Kyle Taylor / Founding Partner

The push method is dead. For the first time in our industry, consumers have more control than brands over the journey a marketing campaign will take. They don’t have to listen or pay attention -- not that they they ever did -- but they can take your campaign and turn it on its ear if you’re not having a true conversation with them.

Brands don’t have anywhere to hide. Here’s how to craft a conversation in a way that will be real, honest and will make an impact.

Having a true conversation with your audience isn’t about advertising and selling stuff to people who don’t want it. Today’s consumers are too smart and know when you’re "selling" and trying to manipulate them.

Why is this so important now? One of the biggest reasons: Volume. According to Influence and Co., in 2014, there were 300 hours of video shared on YouTube every minute. There were 2.46 million posts shared on Facebook. There were 2.4 million searches on Google.

In 2016, a mere two years later, there were 500 hours of video shared on YouTube, 3.3 million posts on Facebook and 3.8 million searches on Google.

People are literally inundated with content. If you’re not engaging in a two-way conversation with your audience, they will seek that human connection elsewhere.

Psychological principles back this up. Most purchasing decisions come from the gut: Most consumer behavior is based on emotions and feelings.

So how can brands captivate their audience and engage in an authentic conversation? First, they need to explore what their brand has permission to have a perspective on.

  • The Pepsi ad starring Kylie Jenner famously flopped because the brand barged into a conversation about protest movements in a way the public immediately judged as tone-deaf and disrespectful to people. It was rejected as inauthentic.

  • On the flip side, Jack Daniel’s has done a great job of understanding its own story and its relationship with its customers and what they want. It steeps all of its messaging with its rich history, its colorful founders and deep Tennessee roots. Here’s a mass-produced, very familiar whiskey maker and it can still make people feel a personal connection to it as if it’s a craft brand. It’s storytelling done in an interesting way.

Conversational storytelling sounds really simple, but for agencies it actually comes down to a place of really hard, honest, active listening to what brands are trying to say, and what their customers and their potential customers will want to say in return.

Part of it is understanding where trust can be built in this powerful creative place that is no longer a one-way conversation. We’re making content for our clients, and they’re making products or an experience for their customers.

But all of us are creating things for human beings, so the real secret is to always be mindful of how humans crave to connect and have really brave, real conversations.

Does this pique your interest? Let’s have a conversation.

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