The conversation is content that’s being created in real-time collaboration with the buyer. Content marketing is about pushing the content that you think the buyer wants. Conversational marketing is about engaging the buyer in a two-way dialogue so you know what they want.

Influential conversations help you suss out the buyer’s unique pain points so that you can be a more effective content curator. This is what enables you to empower the buyer’s individual research process. When you know more about them, you can point them toward content that will answer their questions and help them move through the buying journey.

Meet buyers where they are. Focus on building trust.

Asking a buyer if they want to set up a meeting or get a demo is not how you open an influential conversation. The aim of conversational marketing is to move away from the practice of qualifying people on a strictly score-driven basis. Relying on hard-and-fast (and sometimes arbitrary) movements like downloads won’t allow you to get at the heart of what a buyer needs.

Instead, remember that the buyer is still in the evaluation process. At this stage, you have one job: establish trust. You do this by being helpful, real, and consistently focused on what the buyer wants rather than what you want. Done right, conversational marketing makes your buyers feel heard. It makes them feel like you’re on their side, collaborating on a solution to their problem.

Always be adding value.

A conversation for conversation’s sake doesn’t really help anyone. Each time you engage the buyer, you want to be asking how that conversation is adding value for the buyer. Is it answering a question? Is it increasing their comfort level? Is it helping you better understand their specific situation and challenges? Is it giving you the clues you need to become a “content sherpa” who can hand-deliver exactly the right piece of content at the right moment?

To keep the buyer at the center of the conversation and consistently deliver value, follow these six rules:

Six Rules for Effective and Influential Conversations

Be authentic, not promotional

Skip the jargon and corporate speak. Be professional, but be a real person. This is a conversation, not a brochure.

Educate and inform

Educating is the new selling, but only when what you’re teaching is relevant to the buyer’s situation. Generic content isn’t helpful. You have the ability to zero in on exactly what the buyer needs; use that to deliver content that is extremely useful.

Close the gap

All of your content should focus on addressing buyer pain points. It should help them overcome whatever hurdles are slowing them down on their way to the next step in the buying journey. Know where they are, know what comes next, deliver content to facilitate their momentum.

Be professional, yet personal

Take the time to ensure that your content is accurate, error-free, and presented in a thoughtful manner. Don’t let the real-time nature of conversations be an excuse for sloppy delivery. Train your team and give them the resources they need to represent your company well.

Build around company goals

Your content and conversations need to support business objectives. Know what you’re trying to accomplish and what success looks like. Get clear on the steps in your buyer’s journey so that you know what each stage looks like and what it takes to effectively drive buyers from one stage to the next.

Benchmark and measure performance

It’s not enough to check the box for conversational marketing. Get a clear picture of your current buying process – its strengths and weaknesses – and then set up a measurement framework that will define the impact conversations have on your organization’s key metrics.

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