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A little more conversation, a little less action

Claire Mason, managing director at Man Bites Dog, urges marketers to sharpen up bland business conversations

B2B marketers are often tasked with generating profitable conversations for their organisation, but are marketing efforts in vain if we don’t know how to hold a conversation anymore? In an increasingly digital world, much of our day-to-day communication takes place online. With so many superficial points of connection, are we losing the ability to network in the real world?

Our intention as B2B marketers is to create content that initiates discussions between brands and prospects. We need to acknowledge, however, that our job doesn’t end with opening the door. While content marketing is an important tool in bringing businesses together, we need to equip marketers and sales reps with the social tools to develop the deeper connections and relationships needed to foster trust, understanding and, with a bit of luck, sales.

Is being a good conversationalist something that can be learnt? While most of us in the marketing field are natural networkers, some people are as comfortable shooting the breeze as they would be skydiving. It’s worth remembering that, while we were born talking, conversation skills are not always a prerequisite for a marketing job. To create optimum profitable conversations from marketing campaigns, we should offer clients or colleagues more formal support in the art of conversation.

People with a high degree of expertise in a specialised subject can often feel uncomfortable with small talk. Business usually favours the extroverted, but it’s perhaps time we give introverts their due. Specialists not only make great listeners, conversation is the ideal forum for them to connect with ideas from outside their field.

Nobody wants another banal business conversation. Marketing has a lot to contribute to formally honing the art of conversation, to enrich our lives not just our businesses.

It’s time for us all to make a bit more effort to cultivate better conversations, exercise our curiosity and forge a deeper connection with the human opposite us, moving from just another meeting, to a meeting of minds. After all, it’s fun to talk to strangers.