Don’t Interrupt Our Conversations!

by Jay Deragon on 12/09/2010

I was having lunch with a client and our waiter kept coming over and interrupting the conversation asking if we needed anything. Not just in the beginning of our meal but all throughout our meal.

The interruptions became annoying and I finally said “Thanks for the attention but if we need anything else we will simply come and get you or wave our hand“.  Does this remind you of anything?

Advertisements Are An Interruption

Advertisers are anti-social and don’t even know it. Most Ads are skipped over on sites and considered an annoyance. The real advertisements are consumer reviews and comments which attract more consumers than the traditional advertisements. Seven of the top 10 ads in 2009 (according to Ad Age) included consumers as part of the creation process or as real-life experiments in them.

Traditional advertising continues to decline, and even digital advertising is flattening out. So where are the budgets going? They are chasing “social.” Yet advertisers are not welcome to interrupt conversations and consumers have become savvy about the tricks of the trade.

It’s Not What Ads Say, but What Others Say about Your Ads

Conversations about most brands are happening right now.  There are tools that will  tell you whether
the market sentiment about a brand or product is positive or negative.  It is called a conversation. The tools to monitor conversations are a thermometer, not a cattle prod.

Brands are trying to shape their conversation with a  branded message.  All of them are attempting to construct a decision cycle, a funnel, a CRM plan, but it is a waste of time because such efforts are detected by the consumer and not considered “social”. Conversations are simply an exchange of information between real people, the human network, aimed at fulfilling an intent.

Back to The Waiter

Imagine having a romantic dinner with your spouse and the waiter continually interrupts you in an attempt to “serve”.  A good waiter would recognize that time spent together over dinner is a conversational event.  Whether it is with your spouse, friends or business associates a conversational event is not for the purpose of the merchant rather it is for the fulfillment of people’s intent.

The marketplace is filled with merchants that want to fulfill our intent. However most brands are driven by their intent to make a sale rather than serving the consumers intent to fulfill a desire.  There is a huge difference between the two intents. Consider:

  1. Interruptions are considered anti-social behaviors. People don’t usually stick around to converse when they are constantly interrupted.
  2. If I come to your conversation it is with intent. If I am met with “traps and tricks” that interrupt my intent I’ll end up leaving your conversation.
  3. All buyers want is the ability to fulfill their intent in a productive manner. They don’t necessarily want to be “friends”.
  4. The real price of your products or services doesn’t include the time and effort buyers take to engage in a conversation about your product or service. If the engagement is filled with interruptions the buyer ends up spending their “time and productivity” (money) trying to fulfill their intent.
  5. If a buyer wants to fulfill their intent they will engage in a conversation and if the buyer interrupts you well they are doing so with the intent to ultimately make a purchase.

Advertising and marketing practices came from an era when mass media deployed mass interruption tactics aimed at getting consumer attention. Just in case you didn’t realize it that era is over and the new era is about being social as the means for earning attention.


Mike Ogden December 11, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Yep, waiters and traditional advertising are interrupters. However, a really good waiter knows when to offer his/her services and when to wait in the background for a sign. To me, it comes down to relevancy. How else to explain how well Google display ads are working? The right message delivered to the right person and the right time is welcomed. Social offers the opportunity to be a part of the conservation, to hear what’s going on, to learn and then to adapt as a marketer.

Raj - SEO PPC Blogger December 9, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I think this is highly sophisticated style of slapping, the over marketism by marketers! Also, there were some publications on negative reactions to advertisements online. It is obviously known fact that internet has become part of our lives to share,send,study, shop etc..But as you said this place is dominated by marketer who ignore the basic facts: what,when,how does the customer reach a product. If they can realize the basic intentions of people buying online and know how to approach them, there will be no mess/interruptions!

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