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Content Versus Conversation

by Hank Barnes  |  July 10, 2018  |  3 Comments

I regularly hear clients tell me, “If we get a chance to have a conversation, we usually win.”  But they find it challenging to get to that point.  As I’ve explored this more and more, the contrast between their written content (Web sites, presentations, etc.) and their conversational communications is stark.

Photo by nappy from Pexels

Photo by nappy from Pexels

Yes, it takes more than great content to get noticed, but most content is flat out boring.   As I discussed last week, there is no context to care and compare.  Instead, it’s usually is just a bunch of descriptions of capabilities, features, and benefits.  It all sounds the same.

Contrast that with the conversations I have.  Then things come alive.   You can detect passion.  The stories of why they created the product or service flow easily.   Ideas of what make them different and special quickly emerge.  There seems to be more willingness to try to stand out (vs. just try to be included). The difference is palpable.

Breakthrough strategies require this conversational content to be captured and delivered in written form.   Be bold, tell stories, differentiate.  While all of this is hard, it’s far from impossible—it’s done all the time in conversations.    The one thing that can’t be duplicated is the dialog that enables clarifications and deeper understanding.  But building to that is possible.

Effectively, a choice needs to be made.   That choice is whether you just want to play in a world defined by others—and just describe yourself like everyone else in the space does.  Then hope for the best.   The alternative is to try to stand out, breakthrough the mundane with stories that illustrate differences; stories that capture customer situations; stories that pained a picture of a possibility of doing things differently.

I know which I would choose, how about you?

If you want to stand out, take a deeper look at your conversational content in comparison to written.  I’m pretty sure you’ll find significant differences.  With that analysis, set a path to close the gap.  I’m confident you’ll be happy with the results.

Category: go-to-market  

Tags: b2b-marketing  content  conversation  dialog  messaging  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
5+ years at Gartner
30 years IT Industry

Hank Barnes provides research and advisory services on go-to-market strategies for technology providers. He focuses on issues related to positioning, storytelling, the technology customer life cycle, and customer experience. Read Full Bio


Thoughts on Content Versus Conversation


  1. “Breakthrough strategies require this conversational content to be captured and delivered in written form.” An underutilized “written form” that should be considered in this context is the script or outline of a video. Video is great for telling stories and sharing enthusiasm.

    Also video is surprisingly effective later in the sales process, according to research from Seismic/SAVO Group:
    http://savogroup.com/blog/what-content-do-sales-people-really-need/

    • Hank Barnes says:

      Good point, Bruce…..lets just say that all forms of content-written, video, etc. need to reflect the breakthrough idea effectively

  2. Ken R says:

    Hank, I’ve got a stream, of mostly unpublished content, around the idea that “Markets are Conversations” . The many participants discuss very specific topics, depending on who and when in the buying process. LMK if you’d like to have a conversation about this :)



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