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MarCom becomes MarCon

By now, you probably realize that you need to use podcasts, blogs, and other new media to send out your message, but you may not realize that your customers will use them to talk back to you. Not only will customers comment on your blogs, but they will talk about you on their own blogs with other customers listening. And you might not like what they say. You might even need to respond. So we really have to listen to customers now. Marketing communication is shifting to marketing conversation. You might say MarCom becomes MarCon.

The point is that you no longer deliver a message—you start a conversation. And it’s not always a private conversation. Everything you say is just the starting point of where it will go in the new public discourse made possible by the Web.
Sometimes the conversations are public; sometimes they are private. That used to delineate the difference between sales and marketing, but no more. The stark lines between sales and marketing disappear on the Web.
If you want a preview about how this new marketing conversation might evolve, check out one of the “rat-a-base” sites such as, where you can see names and even pictures of men that women are warning other women about. In a world where alleged bad behavior in something as private as dating is plastered all over the Internet, you shouldn’t have any expectations that your marketing message will go uncommented upon. Our customers are changing. They expect to comment on what companies say and do and the Web lets them do it.
And you must be willing to adjust what you are doing at every moment. You need to be willing to change your message if it’s not working. You must take responsibility for errors your company makes and make sure they are corrected. Your response to one customer may be seen by all your customers. So you must listen with new ears and take action, if you want to appear responsive.
In the old days, public relations people handled these public discussions. Large companies needed to worry about negative publicity, but small companies were never interesting enough to be noticed by the media. With the Web, no company is so small that they can fly under the radar.
Your customers (or your competitors) can use the Web to give you whatever good or bad publicity they desire. So, if your restaurant was cited for health violations or your products are assembled by child labor in a third world country, you’ll have to defend that. If someone took offense at one of your ads, you’ll have to respond. Even if you are a very small company, someone will blog about the issue in front of your other customers and you will be on the spot. Everything you say and do is public.
So, if you prefer to control the marketing message, you may be in for some disappointment. No one can control a conversation—you can control what you say, but not what your customers say. And honestly, when you have a dozen bloggers in your company, it’s hard to impose traditional message control on even your part of the conversation. Can you strive to be relevant? Yes. Authentic? Definitely. Responsive? Absolutely. But can you exert control? Probably not.

Mike Moran

Mike Moran is a Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also served as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website,, most recently as the Manager of Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He was a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research and is now a Senior Fellow of The Conference Board. A Certified Speaking Professional, Mike regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide

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