Episode #162: What’s so Funny About Conversational Marketing

We’ve entered the conversational era of marketing. Unfortunately, too many marketers are stuck in the broadcast world of mass email blasts and anonymous ads. It’s time to change, and we can start by taking a cue from comedians. Yes, comedians. They happen to be brilliant communicators who have mastered the art of conversational marketing (whether they know it or not).

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All right, thank you, Jimi. We are back. Welcome to the Unified CXM Experience. And as always, I’m Grad Conn, CXO, or Chief Experience Officer at Sprinklr. And I’m excited. I’m continuing a series of very focused, story-oriented episodes here and today’s is kind of tied into the concept of Mass 1:1 and how that plays into the unified CXM story and the need for unified CXM platform.

So I’m going to explain that a little bit up front just to get that rolling. And then I’m going to tell a story that I think, epitomizes the type of communication you need to have in a conversational marketing standpoint. So I’ll talk about that a little bit. And then I might just use a quick example at the end from Xbox I think, because it’s kind of a fun way of shocking people and what this really means.

So you’ve probably heard me talk about Mass 1:1, you know, we live in an era where we have all of the knowledge about people that we would have had, say, in the 19th century when we were in a merchant-based economy. So we have one to one capability, I know who you are, I know where you live. And I know your interests. Most importantly, I know your interests. And if I’ve got a good CRM system, I know what you’ve purchased from me already. If I’ve got a good web system, I know what you’ve clicked on, and what your behaviors are. So I can know quite a bit about you. But I can do this in a mass way. So I can do this across hundreds of thousands, millions, or even billions of people. So Mass 1:1 is the era that we’re now in. And we’re exiting the mass marketing era. Mark Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at Procter & Gamble coined this term, hats off to Mark and he launched this at Cannes, two years ago, a little more than two years ago. So what does Mass 1:1 really mean? So Mass 1:1 means I’ve got to listen to everything that everybody says about me if I’m a brand. That’s not easy. Sprinklr pulls in 400 million data sources to be able to do that. This is a non-trivial challenge. But once you pull all that in, then you’re going to have billions of data points. So you have to use AI to sort it out, to make sense of it and get your determined intent.

Once you have that, then you’ve got the ability to create a 360-degree profile of a person, which you can then use to collaborate around as a company, and then engage. And if you’re taking care as an example, you’re going to engage to answer a question, to solve a problem or to amplify someone’s satisfaction. That’s a sort of five-part Mass 1:1 system. And the only way to execute that logically, is with a unified CXM platform. Because if you do each of those steps separately, you won’t be able to get the single customer profile. And you won’t be able to pass the insight knowledge or collaboration amongst the different silos and team members in the organization. So it just won’t work. And anyone who’s tried to run a complex stack in today’s Martech environment knows what I’m talking about. Leads are falling on the floor, stuff’s not connecting, massive latency, all sorts of issues around updates and all sorts of massive attackable surface in terms of hacking, really hard to provision new users, like it’s just a chaotic mess until you can get to a unified CXM platform.

And so Mass 1:1 is the marketing motion that essentially has driven the need and the demand for unified CXM that we see today at Sprinklr. And so one of the other things that we talk about is that we were in the mass marketing or broadcast marketing era in the 20th century, and now we are in the mass one to one or conversational marketing era in the 21st century. But what I see happen a lot, every day is a little harsh, but I see it very frequently, is I see people who are kind of nodding their head, yeah, mass one to one, conversational marketing, I get it. And then they turn around and they blast an email, or they blast out a bunch of ads. And they do the exact same thing they’ve been doing their whole career, which is they’re doing broadcast marketing. And then they revert to broadcast mass marketing, not even blinking. And in fact, in many cases, what I see people doing is they take the mediums like social, like forums, like review sites, like the places where people are dying for conversation and expecting conversation. And they turn around and they do a mass blast. They do a mass marketing communication, and it looks really hollow. It just doesn’t work. And people are just essentially using one technique when they need to use a different one. So I have this little story that I use to talk about how to think about the difference between the way you market in a mass marketing context versus the way you market in a conversational marketing context. So, buckle up.

My favorite communicators are comedians and comedians are brilliant communicators. But I think they also carry this underlying sort of interesting aspect of themselves in that every comedian is trying to communicate the same thing. I think it’s kind of amazing actually. There’s not that many categories. There’s a story like this in B2B which I’ll get to in one of our other focus sessions. But every comedian has the same benefit statement on their creative brief. So you’re familiar with creative briefs if you’ve been in marketing for a while. And so if you’re writing a creative brief, what you would do is, you have a strategy statement, you know, Tide gets clothes cleaner. And often you’ll frame it as to convince the audience that Tide gets clothes cleaner, you’ll have a reason why – Tide has four types of enzymes that get at stains, and other detergents can’t. And then you’ll have a brand character – dependable, trustworthy, and hardworking or something like that. So if you think about a comedian, they’ve all got the exact same benefit statement. Now they all have very different reasons why. So the reason why actually is quite varied. And that may be the extreme diversity in the reason why, and then, you know, almost infinite diversity in the brand character. So comedians present in all sorts of different ways. And there’s all sorts of different kinds of people that can be funny. There’s dry humor, there’s sarcastic humor, there’s zany humor, there’s all sorts of stuff. But the benefit statement’s the same. What is it? Darn, I can’t hear you. Not conversational marketing yet in podcasts. But yeah, just think about it for a second. So I’m going to tease it for you a little bit. I’m going to go Socratic here. Because if I make you think about it, make you try to guess the answer, you’ll remember it more easily. So to convince the audience, so we’ll start with that, to convince the audience that I am funny. Right? Yeah, of course. Yeah, that’s all they want. They just want to convince the audience that they’re funny. That is their sole goal. Use different ways of doing it. They all have the exact same goal. Okay. So if you were to give that creative brief to a marketer, particularly a marketer who’s using a mass marketing mindset, what would they do? Well, they’d say, Okay, my message is, I need to convince the audience that I’m funny, so I need to tell the audience that I’m funny. So I’m going to go in front of the audience, I’m going to go on the stage, here we go. And looking out on the group of smiling faces, and I’ll give them my message. I am funny. And I do know I need to repeat things because I need to get a frequency of about seven before people start to get the message. So I’m going to say it a few times, so I’m funny. I am funny. I am funny. I am funny. I am funny. I’m getting there. Right? I am funny. I’m funny. I think people are looking at me. They’re like, okay, and again, I’m funny. Okay, now I know that Multimedia works. So I’m going to hand out some flyers. So I just kind of do that while I’m doing this. I’m funny. The flyers will say “Grad. He’s really funny”. I also know testimonials work. So maybe I’ll ask someone in the audience. “Hey, could you just let everyone know that you think I’m funny?” And they’re like, “Yeah, Grad’s really funny”. I’m funny. I’m funny. Okay, so let’s do that for a little while. And then the show ends, people file out of the auditorium. Someone says, “Hey, you know, how was it? What was the performance like?”, and what do you say? You go, “Well, you know, I mean, he said, he was funny”. I go, “I got the message. I got the message. I don’t think I’m going to go back to that show again”. It didn’t really feel very funny to me, but I hear what he’s saying. He says that he’s funny and a lot of people seem to think he is. You know, I’m moving on to something else. Okay, so obviously, that’s not what comedians do. What comedians do is something very different. They’re doing conversational marketing. They’re using something called stimulus response. It’s been around a while but has become more important than ever today. That’s why people are snapping up John Caples books like mad because John Caples was a master of stimulus response. So what do they do? The comedian goes up on stage, the comedian tells a joke, that’s the stimulus. You hear the joke. Now, it’s not going to work every time and part of stimulus response is it doesn’t work every time. And not everyone’s going to find it funny and not everyone’s going to laugh, but that’s okay. You have to get most of the people or some of the people finding you funny. And so I hear the joke. And then I’m laughing.

And I think to myself, “Wow, she’s really funny. She is really funny”. And I’m saying that because I’m laughing. So I’m observing my own behavior. It’s a very tightly held belief now because I actually made that conclusion on my own. No one told me that she was funny. Someone may have said you should buy a ticket because she’s funny, but no one told me that for sure she was going to be funny for me. I’m proving to myself she’s funny because I’m laughing at her jokes, and she keeps sending stimulus after stimulus. And as I hear them, and I laugh, I’m reinforcing that over and over again. “Oh, my god, she’s not just funny. She’s hilarious. I can’t wait to see her again”. Right? You leave the show. Someone says, “Hey, how was it?” You know, “oh, my God, she was hilarious. So funny”. And have you ever had that thing where people go like, “what was the content? Like, what did she say?” or “what were the jokes?” And you can never remember. Like, you remember your reaction. You remember your conclusion, but you do not remember. “Like, well, I don’t know. There’s like a mother-in-law and an octopus and I yeah, I can’t really kind of put it together” but like, you knew what you felt. So you, “Know what? Doesn’t matter. Just go see her, you’re going to love her. Hey, she’s fantastic. Hilarious”. That’s how comedians work. That is conversational marketing. And that is what brands need to do in today’s world. They can’t just keep telling people that they’re blue. They’ve got to do a thing that makes people say, “Man, they’re blue. I didn’t really think about that before. That’s a really blue brand”.

I’ll give you an example of something which I think is a really great, really great story. And this is an Xbox story. So Xbox, the vaunted gaming brand of Microsoft has a lot of fans and some detractors. And the gaming community is a bit edgy. And there’s a type of language in the gaming community that you’re on edge, and you’re on point. And so someone wrote them a note, I think tweeted at them and said, “Hey, kind of bummed out, my friends sort of abandoned me and I’m in this first-person shooter”, and doesn’t really matter which one it was, but you know, in a first-person shooter, “and I need a squad”. Because again, a lot of these, especially these military ones, you need to have a few people with you. Because if you don’t have a squad, it’s going to be very difficult to make it off the beach. And so Xbox kind of replied, here’s how you can go about finding people and kind of creating a new squad and the person’s first message was a bit on the edge. The second one was completely inappropriate. Kind of like flaming Xbox, saying how terrible they were, you know, “I’m going to go to a competing platform”, all this kind of stuff. And Xbox at this point had three choices. One, just ignore it. Just let it go away. Happens a lot. Number two continue to be helpful, even though the person is being rude. Or three, what they actually did. So they look at this sort of flame message from the person responding to their first helpful message. And Xbox decided to say, “Ah, now we see why you don’t have any friends.” Now we see why you don’t have any friends. Wow. Anyway, that got under Reddit. And thousands of people weighed in, primarily on the side of Xbox but not 100% of the side of Xbox. And that’s the point of conversational marketing. Let’s say 5,000 people weighed in on this. 4,500 people just were like, now I know why I love Xbox. Now I know why I love Xbox. That’s my brand. I love that brand. I love that that brand’s got attitude. That guy’s a complete … And I love it. That’s what you want. And there’s 500 people that are like, “That’s totally inappropriate. I can’t believe Xbox is going after an individual. That’s super mean. Like what are you doing that for? And Xbox is not my brand”. Well, you know, that’s okay, too. But strongly held beliefs are much more powerful than just being pablum to everyone. There’s a somewhat nichey, very famous in the Broadway community, show called “Title of Show”. It’s made it all the way to Broadway, didn’t run for a super long time but it’s an extraordinary show and if you’re into Broadway, and if you’ve written for it, or produced in it, or appeared in or been part of it in any way, shape, or form, it’s an incredible show. And one of my favorites, if not my most favorite. No, Company is my favorite. But this is right up there, top three or four shows. And so in Title of Show, there’s this great song, which is ‘I’d rather be nine people’s most favorite thing than 100 people’s ninth favorite thing’.

And there’s a lot to that. It does require a little intestinal fortitude to take some of these risks. But when you become the favorite thing of somebody, that passion will radiate outwards, and will create an incredible brand for you long term. So that’s a little bit about conversational marketing. I think that story is a good one. The comedian story is a good one. When you’re trying to explain to colleagues why you’re not just telling them that you’re the greatest, but you’re using other stories to get people to come to that conclusion, use the comedian story as your basis for that. So for the unified CXM Experience, I’m Grad Conn, and I will see you at your favorite Comedy Store … next time.