Monday, November 28, 2011

Do you think small talk is romantic?

         When I opened my laptop yesterday morning, the lead story on Yahoo had me smiling. The headline was, "Skip the small talk on your next date".

          It seems that "deep and meaningful" conversations are still important. That's according to a new study from the University of Arizona. It also revealed that happy people "have more substantive conversations than those who engage in small talk alone".

          The article on Yahoo says that while small talk will help you break the ice, your date doesn't find the weather report scintillating. Shallow equals unromantic, and separates Mr. Right from Mr. Right Now. The article suggests that you at least talk about the news, pop culture, what you're reading or movies you've seen.

          Then you can get into topics that are deeper, such as emotion. That involves risks, of course, as do real relationships. We social animals really want to connect, intimately.

           This is also a good way to think about marketing and advertising. If our communications are shallow (and most ads are), we can't hope to have a real relationships with our customers. We can lose their interest the moment a competitor demonstrates it can understand them better. Even worse is when we create shallowness in social media. Our customers are complex, with hopes and worries that go  deeper than attitudes about products. Listening and helping carry you a lot farther than boasting.

            Maybe we should look at marketing communications as dating. Potential customers are a first date, and of course you want to impress them. One of the best ways to do that is by showing your interest. Your present customers are farther along. You shouldn't be repeating surface-y stuff. You should be their partner, and act like it. But remember: someone more attractive may come along at any time, so don't ever take your customers for granted.

            We've been learning about all this dating stuff since we were in sixth grade, and it's time we apply it to what we do for a living.

              Oh, I meant to ask you: do you prefer Hindemith or Bartok?


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