SNCR New Communications Forum opening keynote: Joseph Jaffe

[cross-posted from New Communications Review, I’m live-blogging the 2008 SNCR New Communications Forum]

Notes from Joseph Jaffe’s opening keynote:

There are millions – millions of conversations going on around us: powerful, engaged, influential conversations: Isn’t it time we join them?

The world has changed. The consumer has changed. Why hasn’t marketing?

Is the consumer in control? Are organizations in control? Nobody’s in control – this is total anarchy. We seek order and control, but that’s a fantasy world, a false sense of control. Some organizations, such as P&G, are trying to give that control to consumers – but consumers don’t want control. They want to be listened to, respected, engaged.

Marketing theory is very outdated – based on simple top-of-mind associations. Would you rather have 10 quality relationships or 5 million impressions? Most marketers want the impressions. See the Comcast example – the first thing that comes to mind (and in search rankings) is the video with the Comcast technician falling asleep. That gets a lot of impressions, but are they valuable? If you cultivate 10 quality relationships, those will branch out and in the long term will bring much more value than impressions.

Moving marketing from 4 P’s to 6 C’s: Content, Customization, Commerce, Conversation, Community, Content – all revolving around the Consumer.

The history and future of media: Moving from the one-to-many model to the one-to-one model (personalization), to one-from-me (search). But the model that characterizes social media is the many-to-many model. The model can work, or can suffocate you if you don’t know how to listen. In some ways, social media has gone to a reverse one-to-many model, where the previous targets (consumers) have become the broadcasters.

Communication vs. Conversation: Communication can only take you so far. Communication gets your foot in the door, but conversation gets the consumer to open the door and invite you in. The way you do it is not to spend lots of money: “Don’t outspend… outsmart.”

SNCR survey: What does conversational marketing mean to you? Some definitions include: less hype, faith & trust in your brand, partnering with consumers, etc. Going back to the Cluetrain Manifesto and the ancient bazaars, those people knew conversations: those markets were conversations. Commerce was a social experience. But we’ve moved from the bazaar/market model to impersonal malls. It’s time to put the social & sociability back in media – and in marketing. Marketing doesn’t have to remain a spectator sport. It’s time to entice consumers to come out of spectator/lurker mode.

In a recent SNCR survey, 41% of respondents anticipated spending 10% or more of marketing budget on conversational marketing. Many CMO’s right now get it, and are ready for conversational marketing. You want your customers to trust you – but do you trust them?

The answer is not to spend absurd amounts of money on fireworks displays (advertising) – how many Superbowl ads can you remember?

It’s time to blend and mesh the worlds of marketing, PR, and advertising, to achieve transformational change. The biggest risk is to spend $4 million on a campaign no one notices. 90% of advertising is wasted. It’s time to reconsider our strategy.

The problem is we don’t nurture the young, fresh smart ideas and we don’t invest enough time in them. The seeds of conversation are not magic beans. Conversation will not happen overnight. Companies need to invest long-term in conversation and maintain that commitment.

At the end of the day, I’m a storm chaser. If you want to understand change, you have to be in the heart of the storm. I stick my neck out. It’s been chopped off a couple of times – but it keeps growing back.

Predictions based on recent SNCR research data:

  • by 2012, companies will have conversation departments. They will listen to customers. They will allow employees to engage with customers. They will sponsor the sand box – and create spaces for customers to engage with each other
  • campaigns will change radically to include influence outreach, blogger activation, conversation monitoring & optimization, etc.

So, where’s the catch?

  • talent: not enough people in the business right now. Advertisers are part of the problem. They’re not the creators; customers are.
  • measurement: not ROI, but return on experimentation; or return on infinity. Right now, there are 4 categories: sales, good PR, improved brand health, more intimate knowledge of customers – the last 2 are the most interesting.
  • integration: 55% of survey respondents stated that conversation should be a combination of marketing, PR, & advertising.
  • organizational buy-in: right now, change happens at the individual level, not at the organizational culture level; but that often means that change happens at the tactical level, and it does not radically change the way the organization operates
  • control: you lose it. Recall T-mobile claiming they own trademark on the color magenta and issuing a cease & desist letter to engadget. In response, many bloggers displayed “T-mobile sucks” magenta badges. 3H: humanity, humility, & humor.

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