Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Closing the Loop

Noah asked me to write a few thoughts on marketing while he’s off gallivanting around Israel. So I thought I’d ask if anyone else is getting a bit disillusioned with all this talk about marketers “creating dialogue� and “sparking conversation� with consumers. Don’t get me wrong, I totally believe in brand dialogue, but I think a lot of folks are focusing their energy in the wrong place.

To me, the challenge isn’t about sparking a dialogue; it’s about closing the loop on the conversation. Marketers and agencies are actually really good at creating sparks. Let’s face it, a decent ad is all about generating interest. People have been telling their friends, “I saw this great ad last night…� for decades.

A company’s communication is really just the first pitch of the ballgame. The problem is that no one wants to throw the ball back. And you can’t really blame consumers. When was the last time you got an email from a company that said “Do not reply to this address� at the bottom of it? It’s hard to start a conversation if the other party openly admits that they aren’t going to listen to you.

Before creating any tactics to start a dialogue, marketers need to create a mechanism so that consumers know:
a) Someone is actually listening to them and
b) They’re creating an impact

Perceived lack of impact is often cited as the reason behind low voter turnout and it’s no different in the business world. Everyone wants to be acknowledged, but marketers are often too concerned with pushing out the start of the next dialogue than to think about how they can close the loop on the last one.

Imagine this- after conducting focus groups around the country to develop a new ad campaign, a company shared the final version with those consumers, thanking them for their feedback and explaining how the final spot evolved out of their comments. Better yet, let them know the first week of the media buy so they can tell their friends about the ad “they helped to make.�

The funny thing is that it’s a lot easier to close the loop on a conversation than it is to spark a new one. It could be as simple as including an opt-in for any market research participant to learn how their comments had an impact on the company. Or it could be ensuring that the marketing staff rotates the role of consumer relations manager to read and respond to consumer emails.

Love to hear your ideas. And yes, I promise that I’ll read any comments you write.


June 7, 2007