Five Behaviors of Receptive Marketing

To understand receptive marketing, the five essential pieces of its practice must be broken down and presented with cause and effect.

Receptive marketing is a conversation, like this one. I’ll post this again at the end, but save it, and watch it later. It’s a conversation with an entrepreneur.

The Five Pieces

There are five pieces to receptive marketing practice.

Get an opinion

Distribute opinion

Find a personality

Distribute personality

Emphasize and elaborate

The basics of receptive marketing come from journalism, which I practiced for eight years, in India, China, most of Southeast Asia and mainly in Hong Kong.

Journalism does what marketing wants to do. It finds a community of practice, or culture, or significance (mainly around a significant news event) and extracts facts and opinions from that community to tell a broader story about why, how and what happened.

That story is then delivered again to the community, which circulates it or receives it, through mainstream media channels like TV, radio, blogs, or, increasingly, tweets and Facebook posts.

Essentially the rhythm is this:

  1. Reporter has a beat, and observes and integrates with the community
  2. Moments of significance occur or a reporter digs to find a moment of significance that has yet to be encountered
  3. Reporter writes, records or details a story in some way
  4. Reporter and editor work to build a story and verify
  5. Story is channeled in a brand umbrella and distribute

Where journalism stops, often, is that there is no feedback loop. Or, at the very least, there is no constant, ever broadening feedback loop.

What do I mean by a feedback loop? And why is it so narrow, if it does exist, in journalism?

I have always argued that marketing is what journalism has always tried to be. And I have been made fun of for it.

What journalism has always wanted to be is a virtuous cycle, to grow the way Amazon grew.

But it can’t. Why? Well, look at the pieces. A feedback loop, in a manner of speaking, is learning done by the sender of the message about the message’s impact, and a collection of that impact, a recording and examination of that impact, and learning that is then built into a bigger and bigger and ever broadening story.

Journalism often doesn’t listen for impact in the way that a marketing person does, because journalists are not invested in the growth that comes from telling stories. They are interested in things like community good, and political change. And let’s be honest, journalists are interested in the impact of their names on the world. Why else would you get into a job that always puts your byline above the story? I used to be a journalist, so I speak honestly about this, and without shame.

The reason that this doesn’t happen often in journalism, unless the story is very big, or drives clicks, is because reporters don’t have enough time to constantly research and examine their impact. That impact is recorded as vvanity metrics and moves on.

In much traditional marketing, we adopt the same behavior. We live and work in a digital marketing culture in brands or in small startups that prizes vanity metrics. Metrics mean “growth” so once we hit that growth, we stop. We achieve. We report that growth and we are rewarded.

In big brands we are rewarded with more budget, even, maddeningly if there is no way to pin metric growth in social and marketing with metric grwoth in sales. Even without this bridge, which rarely if ever exists, digital marketing teams are rewarded because their Instagram likes, Facebook likes, and Tweet favorites MUST suggest that people like the product and are buying it. This is ridiculous.

Where receptive marketing gets tired of this bullshit and evolves is in the following:

We take the five essential pieces that set up our digital marketing as if it were journalism, and we take the bigger and more important final step.

We emphasize and elaborate.

This would be what the reporter would do in journalism after her fifth step.

She would build a self-supporting and positive feedback loop narrative that informs questions that are coming from the brand.

If we see the brand almost as a human that has values and conflicts, those questions become questions the brand is asking of itself.

And almost like in a Jungian dream psychology, that brand questioning is receptive.

What do you mean by receptive?

What that means is that the questioning is being pitched back out to the community as if the community was now an extension of the brand and the questions and the narrative that those questions supply then become a deeper revelatory narrative about the brand.

What makes it “receptive” is that the brand narrative creates an opportunity for the questioner to receive that information.

It is unlike real digital marketing as we know it. Usually when we talk about digital marketing, we are really talking about a set of practices that is taking “the brand message” and broadcasting it for effect.

That is not what receptive marketers do.

Receptive marketers become the voice of the brand by listening. The brand marketer literally gets into receptive mode so that the voice of the customer, who he invites into the brand — this is exactly why social media exists — tells the story.

This is just like journalism.

We continue to do this and then find platforms and methods to continually increase the numbers of people we do this with.

Yes, it is manual.

Yes, digital marketing directors blanche at this, if they are traditionally minded.

And it’s been my experience that they normally do this in tech companies and corporations because it is nearly impossible to measure emotional receptivity.

But does it work?


The following set of videos, of which I will post one below as an example, grew Microsoft’s developer audience in two ways, and in big ways. The show was an attempt to make receptive marketing live, by inviting first time and established entrepreneurs into the studio on Microsoft’s Mountain View campus to tell stories about how they started their company.

One, it grew from ten to 33,000 regular viewers in two months an audience for the live show.

Two, it aided in growing the number of developer teams joining BizSpark from 49,000 or so to about 78,000 in under a year.

Here is a link to the remaining shows.

Here is a show. In this show, I am interviewing an entrepreneur, and the entire conversation is receptive marketing. I am not selling Microsoft products. I am listening and letting the customer speak for himself.

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