become quite popular, as one example.We continue to innovate and create newrevenue streams to support our model.
What would you say to any womanentrepreneur who wants to starther own company?
Don’t fear failure in some kind ofabstract way. Ask yourself, truly,what is the worst that can happen if youfail? Take the answer to the worst conclu-sion—you fail, you lose everything you’veput in. Now, for most of us, there is asafety net. We can rebuild. So, you mayﬁnd that the “worst” is bad, but not tragic. And then I say: Go for it!
Why do you believe it’s importantfor women to be involved withtechnology?
Women are the majority of Internetusers. The majority of women blogin equal numbers to men, and control over80 percent of the household dollars spent,including on electronics and technologydecisions. And yet they are not so repre-sented in any hall of power, from politics,to commerce, to media. And certainly notin the tech space, despite the fact that anynew web apps user base is likely to be 50percent women. So, there may come atime when BlogHer and its mission areobsolete. But we are not there yet.
How important are blogs for driv-ing conversation between the blogreader and the author? Why do you thinkconversation is so important?
Our expectations are different now.We want what we want, when wewant it, and we expect to be able to be apart of it. This applies to the political con-versation, product conversations, youname it. Blogs are a leading channel forthis. And if people don’t want to listen, wecan all create our own personal platformsnow.
Valeria Maltoni:Conversation Agent
has taken the art ofconversations and made it a science. She isthe go-to person corporations and thoughtleaders call to understand business com-munication in this new world. Her blog,
is one of the mostrespected blogs prominently featured onthe prestigious
Ad Age Power 150 list
. As aself-described “communicator in a market-ing world,” Maltoni looks at technologythrough the lens of conversation.
Conversation Agent is a fantasticname for the blog. What was yourinspiration?
Growing up I was always the per-son connecting others. I’m biasedby action and using insights to makesomething happen. I thought why notcombine the idea of conversation—ofthings and people together and the idea ofagent, in terms of taking something to anew place. It wasn’t scientiﬁc. It was morelike observing myself.The selﬁsh motive (in starting the blog)was that I love learning. That’s my ﬁrstpassion. I wanted to include thoughts thatwould give me feedback and insight as towhat people were thinking.
What have you learned about con-versation driving business?
Whenever I am tempted to fall backon traditional marketing modelsand just send out a message or use toolsin the traditional way, I remind myself howexponentially better the results are whencustomers are given the opportunity togive feedback and access to the conver-sation. That’s what stops me from goingback to my habits of using traditional mar-keting.
How does a business start havinga conversation with their custom-ers or clients?
I think one thing to consider is tostart internally and look within yourorganization. Don’t just stop at the workﬂow chart. Ask yourself: What are the skillsets and voices in the organization thatyou can bring to the forefront? Can theyrepresent the business in their own way?To have a conversation, you cannotcontrol the message. The more educa-tional, informational and entertaining youcan make the message from your organi-zation, as a team, the more you are part ofthe conversation, and the more you controlthe conversation.
How should businesses begin touse technology?
You should start evaluating thetechnology to understand thedynamics the technology allows. The tech-nology is a container. Ask yourself: WouldI approach my customer using a tele-phone, e-mail or a letter? What are theircommunication styles? Where are thepeople of inﬂuence to my customers?Where are the analysts? Where are the journalists and others who may have asway in the decisions your customersmake. What happens in those spaces?For example, take Twitter. People use itto have rapid conversations. What sort ofdynamic exists in that space and what can
‘Your marketing resultsare exponentially betterwhen customers are giventhe opportunity to givefeedback and access theconversation.’
Copyright 2009, Enterprising Women magazine (www.enterprisingwomen.com). All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.