Live from DMD New York: Start a Dialogue

New York–Customers have an adversarial relationship with marketers and marketing messages, according to Tom Rapsas, creative director of Frequency Marketing. But in a Wednesday session at the DMD New York conference, he discussed what he views as a way to transform customers’ perception of marketing messages, or “interruptions.”

“Build a strategy that drops the monologue and starts a dialogue,” Rapsas advised in his session, “Winning Communication Strategies to Increase Sales and Improve Customer Loyalty.” Doing so enables your marketing messages to cut through the clutter and differentiates your company from the competition. It also allows customers and prospects to tell you what they want and need so that you in turn can better respond.

The NFL, for instance, establishes a monologue with consumers who opt in to receive a weekly e-newsletter: It asks them which team they follow and subsequently sends them a newsletter that focuses on the team (and sells merchandise specific to the team). In contrast, Major League Baseball conducts a monologue by sending only one generic e-newsletter that covers all the teams.

Rapsas concluded the session by discussing the six best practices of dialogue marketing:

1) “Get your hands on the data.” Before you decide what questions, if any, to ask customers and prospects, review the geographic, demographic, and purchase-history data you already have, to ensure that your conversation starters are appropriate.

2) Start off slowly. Ask no more than four of five questions.

3) Show that you’re listening. In other works, if you ask questions, you’ve got to respond in some way.

4) Offer value in return. This ties in with showing your audience that you’re listening. If you sell gardening products and you asked visitors to your Website whether they prefer annuals or perennials, send offers and information about annuals to those who indicated interest in the former, and products and tips about perennials to those who prefer the latter.

5) Remember that not everyone wants a dialogue. Don’t communicate unless they opt in.

6) Don’t misuse the trust that your audience places in you.

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