If you want to really engage and start a conversation with clients, you need to get rid of your checklist mentality, says Steven van Belleghem, author of the books ‘The Conversation Manager’ and ‘The Conversation Company’. Van Belleghem can be called a true specialist. He executed extensive research on conversations of companies and their clients . What’s more, he is keen to share his most important findings and learnings.

Van Belleghem is keynote speaker at B2B marketing Forum on 20th March where he will present ‘conversation marketing’ more in-depth. We interviewed Van Belleghem this week to get some more insight in his views on business-to-business marketing.

Let’s start today with the typical ‘checklist marketing’ he is talking about. What is it and why should we let it go? “Marketers tend to follow every new thing there is. If Facebook is popular we make a Facebook page. Same goes for Twitter and every other new medium. So there is a lot of cool stuff happening, awards are won and we are eager to jump on the bandwagon. The result? We have several channels but we don’t use them properly. Such a shame since there is a lot of unused conversation potential around us.


That is not all. Van Belleghem sees a big paradox in conversation thinking. We all consider it to be the most valuable but when asked whether we actually use conversation marketing only a few do.

“Conversation needs to be a part of the company values. Your employees need to know how to communicate while clients need to know what to expect. All in all conversation is a group effort and not just something to leave to one department. And, C-level support is key in this.”

Good conversations

Van Belleghem sees 4 important factors in ensuring a good conversation:

  1. Customer experience: a good product and good service ensure that clients will stay with you.
  2. Conversation: be polite, listen and interact.
  3. Content: give your clients and employees something to talk about.
  4. Collaboration: involve your clients in the decision process from the word go.

Do you want to start conversations in your marketing approach? Van Belleghem shares some valuable insights.

  • Create awareness and knowledge. If you know what to do, what tools to use and who to contact it will be a lot easier.
  • Start by using pilot projects. Execute five to seven of these projects. Make sure you can prove their value and that the approach is feasible.
  • Starting conversation marketing is like climbing a mountain. You need to start at base camp and slowly work your way up. The only other way to reach the top is by being launched to the top. Sometimes it works but most of the time it won’t work.

Are you eager to learn more on conversation marketing? Join us on 20 March at the B2B Marketing Forum at Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam.