Why: To get people's attention, it used to be enough to entertain or inform them. Competition among the messages has destroyed the return on that investment. Now you have to generate a conversation.
Context: Direct response marketing has always judged its success by the amoung of response, preferably in the form of purchases, it generates. Advertising for awareness was much more common, but now it's dying. Consumers can't afford to be aware of things they don't need, and advertisers can't afford to waste time speaking to them.
The Diving Board: Two valuable articles have recently been published.
On mobile marketing: For Tiny Screens, Some Big Dreams in New York Times, May-21-06, by Lorne Manly
[Trip Hawkins, early Apple employee, founder of leading game maker Electronic Arts, is now running a startup for mobile games called Digital Chocolate, which promises conversations.]
"Content is just a means to an end, so there's something to talk about," he said. In other words, social connection trumps all.
...although questions are a great way to learn from consumers, the real insights are those that come from day-to-day observations and conversations that occur naturally...
Do you let your contacts know how to reply? How have you enabled your listening post?