Saturday, November 11, 2006

"What's going on?"

Those three words annoy me. As does the phrase, "How are you doing?" Both are vey sincere questions that our culture has turned into shallow greetings. That bothers me.

Last night I ran into a girl who asked, "What's going on with you?" She said this with the same amount of interest as, "Hey!" We hadn't seen each other in nearly six months and while I was going, she was was a brief encounter that warranted only me saying, "Tons. Work. Running. Monk's doing well." And in those few words I lamely summed up my existence. Morover, I didn't even return the question...just left. The truth is there's a lot going on, but the conversation and her expectations of the info we'd exchange fell short of any real substance. I can imagine her response being equally vague - "Work, thinking of grad school, you know."

This morning I grabbed a cup of coffee from a local shop and the barista engaged me (and darn near everyone else in line) in conversation about our Saturday plans. Not only was it a great way to communicate with a customer, but she formed a community with the five or six of us waiting for our drinks. We began talking about the activities each had planned for the day.

My thoughts quickly turned to marketing and brand relations, realizing this was a great example of the difference between brand conversations. Does your brand encourage conversation? Do your people set expectations during communication that allow real, meaningful dialogue to occur? Or are you saying, "What's going on?" when you really mean, "Hello and goodbye"?

Here's an example of a brand that incites tons of meaningful conversation, showcased in a customer's blog. Be careful, you'll get hooked on the posts and entries from users.


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