Conversational marketing and the outcome of word-of-mouth both rely heavily on the idea of consumer loyalty. As evident in McConnell and Huba’s Citizen Marketers, one person has the power to spread the word about a specific product, store, or notion. By rallying behind Target products or Surge, these citizen marketers have used the internet as their tool. Gutenberg’s printing press has evolved into the blogosphere of the 21st century. Like the printing press before it, blogs are a catalyst for changing culture and moving ideas forward. The passion or distaste for a particular brand or product stems from the loyalty within a consumer to get a certain image across the public. The democratization of the internet allows any consumer to blog about whatever they want.

[Free] Conversational Marketing

Oftentimes, companies may be entirely unaware of a marketing ploy provided by their own consumers. As is the case with Diet Coke and Mentos, Diet Coke’s preliminary response was a rejection of mixing the two products to cause an explosion. Diet Coke felt that it went against the sleek and sophisticated image of their brand, as their new set of advertisements demonstrate. Mentos, on the other hand, was entirely supportive of the experiments and popularity after various YouTube videos began circulating on the internet. After they finally realized the sheer popularity of the experiment, Diet Coke changed their tune.

Drawing the line

What Diet Coke originally failed to realize was that their traditional methods of marketing and advertising don’t match up with the new practice of public relations. Professor Bell’s post further draws the line between traditional public relations and the new breed that conversational marketing and the internet have vastly popularized. In the old method of doing things, Diet Coke wanted to control their image. It took them eight months to understand the new age of public relations where conversational marketing trumps antiquated practices.

Wal-Mart’s spotlight in traditional media is remarkably different from their mentions on the blogosphere. Traditional media outlets like The New York Times have often focused on employee benefits, wages, and Wal-Mart’s initiatives to go green. Online, however, many of the blogs centered around Wal-Mart have to do with back to school, favored products, and general customer service in addition to various anti-Wal-Mart groups like Wake Up Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart Watch. The line between traditional media and social media in Wal-Mart’s case is extremely bold and easy to identify.

The key to getting customer loyalty = listening to the consumer
Listening centered marketing is at the crux of understanding the consumer. This 360 degree idea absorbs every aspect of the new age of public relations. With so many conversations going on about products, stores, ideas, etc., it is essential for customers to listen to the consumers. Pete Blackshaw’s blog says that this model of marketing is uber modern and extremely necessary. Blackshaw names this current era an “age of conversation”. This is anything but a one-sided conversation—with consumers doing so much talking, companies and pr professionals need to listen and act according to these conversations. Listening to consumers is the ultimate way to gain their loyalty for a brand.