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Hearing from your non-target audience is critical to moving forward

I look forward to chatting with a friend and HR executive about how or if her organization encourages dialogue internally. It’s going to be a tricky conversation and I’m not at all sure I can verbally explain what I mean.

What's out there?

Dodgy Questions

I’m working backward from the notion that target audiences and publics are no longer willing to suffer monologues, sermons and sales pitches from companies trying to get their dollars. As I talk with clients and friends, I realize the unwillingness to engage in dialogue with their target audiences actually comes from a deep place of control that leaders want to maintain. Dialogue looks like brazen and reckless openness that offers little or no payback: sort of a personal, self-inflicted Wikileak that will most certainly sink the ship.

In a sense they are right: telling what we know and offering it in exchange for discussion and relationship does seem like giving away the store. But it isn’t exactly that and it will become less like that over time. Dialogue today is more a recognition that the audience that once packed your lecture hall is now making its way to the stage, each with their own microphone and their own index card of questions.

The willingness to engage in dialogue is much, much more than turning on another marketing channel or sprucing up a communication strategy. It is a deep-seated willingness that runs counter to the way many of our businesses are organized.

Talking to the Other

I’ve been tracing the notion of the Other back through Derrida to Levinas and Hegel. I’m trying to understand exactly what is at stake when we open ourselves to true engagement with another person. In particular, engagement with people outside my demographic, outside my target audience, outside my belief set. What are they talking about and how have I excluded them and what have I missed through my exclusions?

I’m eager to know what a company that opens itself in this way looks like: who are they internally? How do they talk with each other in a way that allows them to be open to talking with others?

So—this conversation. Are you interested ?


Written by kirkistan

December 8, 2010 at 10:14 am

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