Customer Conversations Cut Through the Clutter

Authentic conversation in a trusted channel is the secret to coping with an epidemic of information overload.A "roaring river" of information inundates people today, creating a sense of information overload and inducing prolonged stress and even depression. It should be a clarion call for marketers to strive for genuine conversation with target audiences.

Kathy Cripps, writing on the Council of Public Relations blog, describes the unintended, but very real consequences of a torrent of information in a cluttered public space. Excessive communication, Cripps notes, is affecting nearly everyone with a computer, tablet and smartphone. Executives say they are overwhelmed by information. Doctors warn heavy use of technology-aided communication can lead to emotional stress and sleep disturbance.

"It seems people have reached their capacity to manage data," Cripps writes, citing a comment in Fast Company, "impacting family, friends, productivity and even sleep."

Yet the flood of information, riding waves of new technology opening more doors to communication, continues.

No one wants or can turn off the spigot of technology. So the challenge is to find ways to speak through the noise, to offer valued information amid a sea of undifferentiated communication.

The answer lies in relationship-based outreach, rooted in authentic conversation between trusted communication partners.

The secret may be in finding a way to replicate face-to-face encounters, which seem to have receded in the wake of texting, email and social media. With apologies to Nike and its iconic tagline, marketers "just need to talk to their customers."

Talking to customers requires some form of direct communication channel. A place needs to be created that customers can elect to go to for information they want and trust. It might involve special incentives, but it absolutely must be based on trust.

People will listen to information they value. The marketer's job is to create a space where it is easy, safe and sane to listen.