I really want to drive a wedge between Conversational Marketing and any marketing method that uses compensated agents, whether they're disclosed or undisclosed. For the past several months, I've been receiving material from buzz marketing and word of mouth companies that want to do business. Typically, they pick up on columns I've written or things I've posted here about Conversational Marketing, and they try to make it seem like we're in the same business, trying to sell the same services to clients. We're not.
Conversational Marketing does not involve the use of compensated agents. I believe strongly that, in this medium, the use of agents (regardless of whether their relationships are disclosed or not) breeds mistrust in brands and companies.
One of the challenges we face is that potential clients, having been visited by the buzz marketing folks, often lump our services into the same category. The easiest way to understand something new is to relate it in some way to something you're already familiar with, but the comparisons to buzz marketing with agents are something we consider unwelcome.
We want people who are employees of our client companies to represent their company on the Internet, not agents. While we will give clients plenty of guidance, we cannot duplicate the experience of, say, being in charge of product development for an MP3 player. So we shouldn't pretend that we can. The best person to answer questions concerning the development of that MP3 player is one of the folks who worked with the electronic engineers, who built the feature set, who saw it through production.
I see people in the Word Of Mouth business trying to latch on to the term Conversational Marketing and lump it in with all the other terms that describe using agents to generate buzz. Any suggestions as to how to drive a wedge between the two marketing methods would be a great help, so be sure to leave your thoughts in comments.