Conversation-MarketingInspired by an article written by Sarah Burke of about Conversation Marketing, we wanted to talk more about how your small business uses – or should use – conversation marketing.

Are you talking TO your customers or WITH them? A conversation is really a two-way communication. So, if you are just talking to your customers, you may not be communicating with them. Having a conversation involves both sides listening to the others’ point of view. Far too often a salesperson will anticipate a rejection and have a scripted response ready, but that is not a conversation either.

Many small business owners may often believe that they are communicating with their customers, but in reality they are not actively communicating – they are just ‘talking at’ their customers. Talking at someone is not Conversation Marketing; it is just talking and expecting them to only listen only to your points.

We encourage you to read Sarah Burke’s article to learn more about the concept, history and application of Conversation Marketing. For the purposes of our article here, we want to talk about what it means to have a real “conversation” with a customer that is not about marketing or selling your product or service. As a small business owner, you will often have key clients that want to work with you, but you need to build a relationship with them that is solely about business.

When was the last time you sat down with a key client and had a two-way conversation that was not about business? You would be surprised how much you can learn about clients and their businesses when you are not trying to talk about actual business. Old-school shopkeepers have been using conversation to build customer loyalty long before we had terms and buzzwords to define them.

Customer loyalty is often nurtured in a more personal small business two-way “chat” that bigger industry players cannot replicate because of their size. Use your personalized conversations with your clients to your advantage. Keep notes about key dates and let them know that you are being genuine by actually engaging them in a conversation about significant dates and anniversaries in their lives. As a small business owner, you have that personal-touch advantage over your larger corporate competitors.

When one of our office space for rent tenants comes to our staff to have a conversation, it may not be about a problem they are having with our office facilities. Indeed, it may be about other challenges they are having with their small business, or even the news of the day. Having this type of open dialogue is a great way to discover how to better serve clients’ business needs. After all, our business relies on their businesses being successful.