Two readers shared some interesting stories about conversational marketing in response to my post on the topic (and offer of free books!). I want to relay their stories, because we as marketers need to do more of this. As I said before, people increasingly don’t trust sales and marketing. They are bombarded with information. They want to be heard and have a say. Kelly Bock, Marketing and Development Manager of Advocates for Faith and Freedom, shares this story:We hosted a focus group with our highest donors (about 12-15 people), and we plan to hold a couple more groups with more of our donors, since we gained so much valuable information from the first. The types of questions we asked the group were: How did you first hear about Advocates and why did you decide to financially support us? Why do you continue to support our group? In what ways are we communicating well with you? In what ways can we improve our communication and marketing efforts? We have a fundraising event coming up in the fall, and we asked our supporters what kind of speaker they would enjoy, where they would like it to be, etc. We learned that they loved hearing from our clients and their personal stories! This was a wonderful insight for us – so obvious when you think about it, and so simple to implement in marketing communications with current and potential donors! How can we reach out to new people who have never heard of Advocates before? The most amazing thing I learned from the focus group was how devoted these donors are to our group. They truly want to be informed of what is happening, they want to know about successes and court trials and hearings when they happen. One woman even suggested starting an emergency prayer chain, because she wanted to know exactly when we needed prayer – when going into the courtroom, when writing an important brief, etc. And, she agreed to help initiate it!In all, this was an exciting look into how and why our donors are so drawn to Advocates and why they continue to support us. In addition, it was an amazing application of a marketing tool – the focus group – that I had always learned about in regard to consumer product marketing. Chuck Warpehoski of the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice shares his Listening Project experience. We went through a “listening project” to consult our members and allies on a range of topics relating to the future of the organization, and ourmembers were happy to share their wisdom. When we compiled the full results of the project, the data filled 51 pages.Here is what we did right:–We invited a broad group of folks to be part of the conversation: donors, activists, community partners, etc.;–We acted on what we heard. For example, we heard a lot of people say that they wanted to hear more about the faith components of people’s connections to peace and justice, so we added more of that to our programming.–We shared the results broadly so that everyone could continue to see what others were saying and deepend the converstation. We learned a lot about what we should be doing and strengthened our relationships with our members. It helped in our Board recruitment and started as a springboard for new programs and changes in our structure. There is one weak spot in our program that I do regret. We didn’t do enough 1 on 1 follow up with people who shared their personal information. There was an opportunity to have lots of personal conversations, which would have led to increased involvement, but we didn’t have the capacity for that. Great work Kelly and Chuck. They had in-person conversations, but you can also engage in conversations online and on the phone. Wherever you have them, however you have them — please have them. Listen to your supporters and address their perspective.