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a blog by Chris Barrow

What is conversational marketing?

As you can see from my current reading list, I’m enjoying “Naked Conversations” at the moment, an excellent history of the development of blogging and it’s application to marketing and customer relationships. Many of the quite amazing stories in the book relate to the speed with which ideas (and software) can spread, once people are talking to people. Although not the fastest, the story that dropped my jaw was of a small group of high school kids who decided to try and connect with each other (in 1996) to facilitate live communication over the internet. Encouraged by their father, an investor in technology start-ups who gave them $10,000 to play with, they found to their astonishment that 65,000 “strangers” joined their network in 6 months. The company they formed, Mirabilis, was sold to AOL after 2 years for $287 million – and then became AOL Instant Messenger. You know the rest. In terms of growth of market share, even that doesn’t compare with the rise and rise of services like Skype (voice over internet), Firefox (internet browsing without Microsoft) and the world of blogging itself. Another fascination is that these companies have spent little or nothing on marketing – it’s just been word-of-mouth, or what is known in techie circles as “conversational marketing”. As I’m just about to launch into my own Autumn schedule of Marketing workshops, these stories have given me pause for thought as to what effective marketing in dentistry will be about in the years ahead. I’m due to submit an article to Dentistry magazine today (deadlines, deadlines) and I think I will expand on this blog entry there – and then post the resulting article in the next few days.

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