conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

Medtech Using Social Media #4: The Power of the Question

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Yes--what is your question?

Yes--what is your question?

A question changes everything. A question mark sets a thought on a pedestal in the street and invites comment. It says, “I don’t know the answer—do you?” When I teach, a question is one of my most powerful tools. With a question I ask for input while simultaneously implying “You’ve got something valuable to say and I want to hear it.” The best, most fruitful discussions happen when I present what I know and then invite students to contribute from their experience and thinking. Something alive often happens, something I could not plan for or even predict. Something that moves us all forward.

For marketers, the question is equally powerful. If we’re lucky, we’re in a team where we can ask questions openly rather than pretending to own all the answers. Our usual path to outward communication is to ask our questions in the (relatively) protected environs of conference rooms and among colleagues. Then we polish and hone the messages into one-way barbs to shoot out through our media channels. But what if the questions themselves were our communication points? What if we started with questions to our growing community of similarly-interested people, long before we ever started polishing messages for public consumption?

Once upon a time my team worked on promoting a new heart failure device. We identified a single main message that incorporated three strong benefits (based on market research) which became the core of our campaign. We tested our messages informally, received anecdotal feedback and pushed forward. Today, with the help of social media, that scenario might look like this: take the received market research, our questions and immediately begin dialogue. Proceed with message polishing and honing  even as the community dialogue continues. At some point the internal and external dialogues blend and the end result is something beyond what we could conceive on our own. Best of all, this new something already his mind-share in a community of interested people. And if you have a sales force, you know that mindshare is a key gear for turning sales.


Next Up: What would dialogue success look like?



Photo credit: Colt Elementary PTO &

One Response

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  1. […] all the reasons I’ve been writing about, from lack of curiosity to the absence of questions to simple lack of insight into his audience, his sales pitch did not address my central question: […]

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