Conversational Capital: How to Create Stuff People Love to Talk About

Conversational Capital: How to Create Stuff People Love to Talk About

NOOK Book(eBook)

$15.99 $27.99 Save 43% Current price is $15.99, Original price is $27.99. You Save 43%.
View All Available Formats & Editions

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780132703741
Publisher: Pearson Education
Publication date: 08/07/2008
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 208
File size: 451 KB

About the Author

Bertrand Cesvet is chairman and chief strategist of SID LEE, a Commercial Creativity company with offices in Montreal and Amsterdam. He provides creative and strategic leadership on marketing communications and experience design projects for clients such as adidas, Red Bull, Cirque du Soleil, and MGM Mirage. He lives in Montreal with his wife Josee and daughters Gabrielle and Emma.

 

Tony Babinski  is a Montreal-based writer, creative director, and filmmaker. He has worked with SID LEE since 2000 and is the author of Cirque du Soleil :20 Years Under the Sun, the authorized history of Cirque du Soleil. He lives in Montreal with his wife Julie and children Sophie, Max, and Lily.

 

Eric Alper is a strategist for SID LEE. He has kept a blog about Conversational Capital going since 2006. He has also developed and written the Conversational Capital blog.

 

Read an Excerpt

0131360752.pdfINTRODUCTION

This is a book about why certain brands outperform the competition. Through close observation, we've determined how market leaders inject intensity into their products and services and turn them into experiences that truly matter to consumers. This is the "stuff " we refer to on the cover of this book. These highly charged experiences provide incendiary fuel for conversations that consumers engage in to define who they are. Because they have so much identity defining and affirming significance, having the power to shape such experiences is the new Holy Grail for businesses bent on leadership. And, like the Holy Grail, it is ultimately mysterious and elusive.

Or is it? We've written this book because we believe that creating such experiences is a process you can influence. It's not as mysterious as you may think. It is something you can manage through observation, insight, and, most importantly, creativity.

Our belief isn't just a matter of opinion. It's rooted in our direct experience with one of the biggest conversation-generating successes of the last quarter century: Cirque du Soleil.

In 2001, Cirque du Soleil asked us to redesign its website. The company was already an international live entertainment giant. With eight ground-breaking shows running in various traveling and permanent installations around the world, Cirque had achieved gross annual revenues of over 500 million dollars a year and counting. At the time, before user-generated content began maximizing the Internet's potential to create thriving online communities, Cirque already had a fan club boasting 300,000 dedicatedmembers.

We soon became Cirque's main marketing communications agency and have been with the company ever since. Cirque du Soleil now has fi ve permanent shows in Las Vegas, one in Orlando, one in Macao, and nine shows on tour. Th ey have expanded into television, film, music, and, more recently, lifestyle products and experiences. Their business keeps growing— and perhaps the most amazing thing about the company's remarkable evolution into a cultural icon is that it took place with almost no mass marketing to support it.

Before we began working on the new site, we had to come to terms with just how much the Cirque du Soleil brand meant to its fans. Almost everyone who had ever seen a Cirque show liked it. Many of them loved it and became repeat fans. Perhaps more importantly, a significant number of Cirque fans described the shows as life-changing experiences and became brand ambassadors, carrying the Cirque torch with them wherever they went.

All of this happened without even a nod of recognition to how things are supposed to work in conventional marketing practice. For decades, the accepted wisdom in industry circles has been that brands succeed only if a ton of money is thrown in the direction of mass marketing. Want to be noticed? Spend big on media. Make sure that television and print ads with a simple, easy-to-understand message about your brand get out there in front of as many people as possible, over and over and over again. Combining maximum reach with maximum frequency is the only way to go.

Except that didn't happen with Cirque du Soleil. Instead, the company's success grew organically, through word-of-mouth. Cirque is a success because people have taken it to heart, and made it part of their own personal narratives—something they not only talk about with others, but that also defi nes who they are.

Nothing is more powerful than when consumers make your story part of their story. This is especially true today, in a fragmented media market that's spilling over with branded communication efforts. Obviously, mass-market communications can be meaningful and memorable, but it's getting harder than ever to break through the clutter. Even if a breakthrough happens, consumers who've grown up in the media age view "top-down" communication with suspicion and skepticism. When a message does succeed in getting across, it carries little weight.

Highly charged consumer advocacy through word-ofmouth communication represents the exact opposite. Unlike mass marketing, it's carried "horizontally" from peer to peer, so it has more power and authority. Consumers who believe in certain brand experiences and are vocal about their belief are the carriers. Like a virus, it spreads on contact fast.

Over the last several years, we've observed that, like Cirque du Soleil, the best products and experiences owe their success to word-of-mouth communication.

Data from a recent study by The London School of Economics titled "Advocacy Drives Growth" makes this clear. Th e study was conducted in the U.K., but its findings have universal implications. It found that positive word-of-mouth predicted sales growth for retail banks, car manufacturers, mobile phone networks, and supermarkets. It also revealed that companies with higher levels of word-of-mouth advocacy grew faster than their competitors and generated greater sales.1

Word-of-mouth is valuable currency. Like any currency, we believe that its value can be managed. Build it properly and you have an asset that increases the value of your brand. Ignore it or spend it unwisely and you have a liability—even if you've invested millions above the line.

Because word-of-mouth advocacy is organic and democratic and because consumers control so much of its power, it can appear scary and unpredictable to marketers. It shouldn't be. What we've seen, time and again, is that positive word-of-mouth happens when a certain number of key factors are present in a brand story. We call these factors the engines of Conversational Capital. By becoming aware of and managing these engines properly, you can turn Conversational Capital into a toolbox that builds value into your product or service.

People are talking. We're writing this because we want you and your brand to be part of the conversation.

WE'RE COMMITTING SUICIDE HERE - We're advertising people, yet, in stumbling upon Conversational Capital, we have unearthed a truth about the branding process that boots the cornerstone of our business right out from under us. Th e discomfi ting thing about Conversational Capital is this: When word-ofmouth works well, traditional advertising and design become much less important. When the engines of Conversational Capital are built into your consumption experience, positive word-of-mouth is likely to follow. So we're stuck with a quandary: Do we spill the beans or shut our mouths and keep billing for the same old same old?

Too bad—Mom always told us to share.

NO, NEVER MIND: WE'RE TOO LAZY!
-
On second thought, self-immolation requires too much energy. The truth is, advertising people are lazy by nature (otherwise, we'd be novelists, nuclear physicists, or whatever). The second truth about Conversational Capital is that it makes our jobs easier because it turns consumer experiences into tight, compelling stories. And the better the story, the simpler it is to write a great brief, come up with a killer strategy, and produce award-winning creative.

So let's work on that story together. It may be against our essential nature, but we'll do the heavy lifting (promise).

EXCUSE ME, BUT YOU'RE CALLING A LITTLE LATE - We consider ourselves storytellers by trade. We take your consumer experience and distill it into a narrative that's relevant to your target market. Most of the time, however, clients call us too late. By the time they do, they come to us with products and experiences that are already designed and with fully developed stories. And those stories...well, sometimes they're not as compelling as they could be. It's the curse of our business. Conversational Capital enables us to rework with you the narrative that informs your consumer experience, and it helps make that story one that people want to tell.

So, we don't have to spend a lot of time turning the sow's ears into silk purses.

SUMMING UP
  • When products and services become intense experiences, something powerful happens. They become fuel for conversations that consumers engage in to define who they are.


  • That process turns brands into market leaders. More importantly, what we've observed about market leaders like Cirque du Soleil and others tells why and how it happens.


  • Turning that process into something you can manage and control is what this book is about.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

Is this just another book about word-of-mouth?

We don't think so. Although this book acknowledges the fundamental importance of word-of-mouth in today's economy, it goes further than anything we've read in describing why and how word-of-mouth happens in the first place.

We think most people will agree, but this book is not intended as a closed discussion. We know there are intelligent and perceptive doubters and nay-sayers out there, and we welcome their points of view. Conversation about Conversational Capital can and will extend outside of this book!

Find out what other people are saying and tell us what you think at www.conversationalcapital.com.FOOTNOTE

1 Marsden , P., Samson, A., and Upton , N. "Advocacy Drives Growth." Brand Strategy. Nov/Dec 2005.

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

About the Authors  x

How This Book Came Together  xi

This Is an Open Source Book  xiii

Foreword by Hermann Deininger  xv

Introduction  xvii

 

PART 1: Defining Conversational Capital

1          What Is Conversational Capital?  3

2          The Eight Engines of Conversational Capital  9

3          How Conversational Capital Works  15

4          Why Conversational Capital Works  35

5          Conversational Capital Is Not Buzz  45

6          Conversational Capital and Advocacy  53

7          Conversational Capital Is for Everyone  55

 

PART 2: The Engines of Conversational Capital

8          Rituals  63

9          Initiation  69

10        Exclusive Product Offering (EPO)  77

11        Over-Delivery  85

12        Myths  91

13        Relevant Sensory Oddity (RSO)  99

14        Icons  107

15        Tribalism  115

16        Endorsement  123

17        Continuity  127

 

PART 3: Implementing Conversational Capital

18        Getting Started  135

19        Designing a Solution  143

20        Implementation  153

21        And Two More Questions  161

 

Glossary of Terms  165

Index  171

Preface

0131360752.pdf INTRODUCTION

This is a book about why certain brands outperform the competition. Through close observation, we've determined how market leaders inject intensity into their products and services and turn them into experiences that truly matter to consumers. This is the "stuff " we refer to on the cover of this book. These highly charged experiences provide incendiary fuel for conversations that consumers engage in to define who they are. Because they have so much identity defining and affirming significance, having the power to shape such experiences is the new Holy Grail for businesses bent on leadership. And, like the Holy Grail, it is ultimately mysterious and elusive.

Or is it? We've written this book because we believe that creating such experiences is a process you can influence. It's not as mysterious as you may think. It is something you can manage through observation, insight, and, most importantly, creativity.

Our belief isn't just a matter of opinion. It's rooted in our direct experience with one of the biggest conversation-generating successes of the last quarter century: Cirque du Soleil.

In 2001, Cirque du Soleil asked us to redesign its website. The company was already an international live entertainment giant. With eight ground-breaking shows running in various traveling and permanent installations around the world, Cirque had achieved gross annual revenues of over 500 million dollars a year and counting. At the time, before user-generated content began maximizing the Internet's potential to create thriving online communities, Cirquealready had a fan club boasting 300,000 dedicated members.

We soon became Cirque's main marketing communications agency and have been with the company ever since. Cirque du Soleil now has fi ve permanent shows in Las Vegas, one in Orlando, one in Macao, and nine shows on tour. Th ey have expanded into television, film, music, and, more recently, lifestyle products and experiences. Their business keeps growing— and perhaps the most amazing thing about the company's remarkable evolution into a cultural icon is that it took place with almost no mass marketing to support it.

Before we began working on the new site, we had to come to terms with just how much the Cirque du Soleil brand meant to its fans. Almost everyone who had ever seen a Cirque show liked it. Many of them loved it and became repeat fans. Perhaps more importantly, a significant number of Cirque fans described the shows as life-changing experiences and became brand ambassadors, carrying the Cirque torch with them wherever they went.

All of this happened without even a nod of recognition to how things are supposed to work in conventional marketing practice. For decades, the accepted wisdom in industry circles has been that brands succeed only if a ton of money is thrown in the direction of mass marketing. Want to be noticed? Spend big on media. Make sure that television and print ads with a simple, easy-to-understand message about your brand get out there in front of as many people as possible, over and over and over again. Combining maximum reach with maximum frequency is the only way to go.

Except that didn't happen with Cirque du Soleil. Instead, the company's success grew organically, through word-of-mouth. Cirque is a success because people have taken it to heart, and made it part of their own personal narratives—something they not only talk about with others, but that also defi nes who they are.

Nothing is more powerful than when consumers make your story part of their story. This is especially true today, in a fragmented media market that's spilling over with branded communication efforts. Obviously, mass-market communications can be meaningful and memorable, but it's getting harder than ever to break through the clutter. Even if a breakthrough happens, consumers who've grown up in the media age view "top-down" communication with suspicion and skepticism. When a message does succeed in getting across, it carries little weight.

Highly charged consumer advocacy through word-ofmouth communication represents the exact opposite. Unlike mass marketing, it's carried "horizontally" from peer to peer, so it has more power and authority. Consumers who believe in certain brand experiences and are vocal about their belief are the carriers. Like a virus, it spreads on contact fast.

Over the last several years, we've observed that, like Cirque du Soleil, the best products and experiences owe their success to word-of-mouth communication.

Data from a recent study by The London School of Economics titled "Advocacy Drives Growth" makes this clear. Th e study was conducted in the U.K., but its findings have universal implications. It found that positive word-of-mouth predicted sales growth for retail banks, car manufacturers, mobile phone networks, and supermarkets. It also revealed that companies with higher levels of word-of-mouth advocacy grew faster than their competitors and generated greater sales.1

Word-of-mouth is valuable currency. Like any currency, we believe that its value can be managed. Build it properly and you have an asset that increases the value of your brand. Ignore it or spend it unwisely and you have a liability—even if you've invested millions above the line.

Because word-of-mouth advocacy is organic and democratic and because consumers control so much of its power, it can appear scary and unpredictable to marketers. It shouldn't be. What we've seen, time and again, is that positive word-of-mouth happens when a certain number of key factors are present in a brand story. We call these factors the engines of Conversational Capital. By becoming aware of and managing these engines properly, you can turn Conversational Capital into a toolbox that builds value into your product or service.

People are talking. We're writing this because we want you and your brand to be part of the conversation.


WE'RE COMMITTING SUICIDE HERE - We're advertising people, yet, in stumbling upon Conversational Capital, we have unearthed a truth about the branding process that boots the cornerstone of our business right out from under us. Th e discomfi ting thing about Conversational Capital is this: When word-ofmouth works well, traditional advertising and design become much less important. When the engines of Conversational Capital are built into your consumption experience, positive word-of-mouth is likely to follow. So we're stuck with a quandary: Do we spill the beans or shut our mouths and keep billing for the same old same old?

Too bad—Mom always told us to share.



NO, NEVER MIND: WE'RE TOO LAZY!
-
On second thought, self-immolation requires too much energy. The truth is, advertising people are lazy by nature (otherwise, we'd be novelists, nuclear physicists, or whatever). The second truth about Conversational Capital is that it makes our jobs easier because it turns consumer experiences into tight, compelling stories. And the better the story, the simpler it is to write a great brief, come up with a killer strategy, and produce award-winning creative.

So let's work on that story together. It may be against our essential nature, but we'll do the heavy lifting (promise).



EXCUSE ME, BUT YOU'RE CALLING A LITTLE LATE - We consider ourselves storytellers by trade. We take your consumer experience and distill it into a narrative that's relevant to your target market. Most of the time, however, clients call us too late. By the time they do, they come to us with products and experiences that are already designed and with fully developed stories. And those stories...well, sometimes they're not as compelling as they could be. It's the curse of our business. Conversational Capital enables us to rework with you the narrative that informs your consumer experience, and it helps make that story one that people want to tell.

So, we don't have to spend a lot of time turning the sow's ears into silk purses.


SUMMING UP
  • When products and services become intense experiences, something powerful happens. They become fuel for conversations that consumers engage in to define who they are.

  • That process turns brands into market leaders. More importantly, what we've observed about market leaders like Cirque du Soleil and others tells why and how it happens.

  • Turning that process into something you can manage and control is what this book is about.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

Is this just another book about word-of-mouth?

We don't think so. Although this book acknowledges the fundamental importance of word-of-mouth in today's economy, it goes further than anything we've read in describing why and how word-of-mouth happens in the first place.

We think most people will agree, but this book is not intended as a closed discussion. We know there are intelligent and perceptive doubters and nay-sayers out there, and we welcome their points of view. Conversation about Conversational Capital can and will extend outside of this book!

Find out what other people are saying and tell us what you think at conversationalcapital.com.

FOOTNOTE

1 Marsden , P., Samson, A., and Upton , N. "Advocacy Drives Growth." Brand Strategy. Nov/Dec 2005.


© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Conversational Capital: How to Create Stuff People Love to Talk About 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
mitchellray on LibraryThing 28 days ago
This book shows you how to get people talking about your product in a positive way by providing them with a meaningful experience with that product. The authors describe and illustrate with examples the eight engines of conversational capital. They also provide a plan for implementation. This book is about creating ambassadors for your product. It is a how-to guide for creating word-of-mouth marketing. This book goes way beyond the usual marketing text. Read it and apply its principles and you will have people talking about your product.
Grady1GH More than 1 year ago
Even the casual reader who happens to pick up this book, CONVERSATIONAL CAPITAL: How to Create Stuff People Love to Talk About, out of sheer curiosity will be rewarded not only by fine writing style on the part of Bertrand Cesvet and his associates Tony Babinski and Eric Alper, but also by the warmly humanistic approach these gentlemen have taken in describing a manner of finding the source of interest and appeal to consumers of all types. And in making a book that encourages us to rethink the process of marketing these thinkers are encouraging a level of communication that extends far beyond their topic of discussion.

'Conversational Capital' addresses consumers' motivation in noticing and approaching a 'product ' and then becoming a spokesman for that decision at which they have arrived. In this fascinating exploration of the human psyche the authors delineate Eight Engines that are experience amplifiers: Rituals, Exclusive Product Offering, Myths, Relevant Sensory Oddity, Icons, Tribalism, Endorsement, and Continuity. In the most casual manner, yet in a style that is always literate and intelligent, the drivers that capture the interest and subsequent devotion on the part of a consumer are shown to be based on basic human needs - needs that assure success if each aspect of approach is successfully found by the producer and transmitted to the buyer. While there are many 'marketing tool texts' on the shelves, especially with the current emphasis on creating a 'buzz' as the goal for capturing an audience, this book takes the current concepts many steps further, incorporating psychology, sociology, tradition, and a respect for the history of human instincts. The results, as so well described in this book, make for a lesson in much more than marketing techniques!

'Simply put, Evolutionist word-of-mouth makes business a holistic phenomenon, and Conversational Capital is squarely in the Evolutionist's corner. That's why continuity and integrity are so important....Continuity between who you say you are and who you really are is what makes an experience conductive....In the world of Conversational Capital , integrity of experience is the name of the game.' Several famous 'businesses' are examined in detail - IKEA, Cirque du Soleil, Apple, Starbucks, addidas are only a few of the consumer/producer environments and bondings that are dissected.

The overriding aspect of this immensely interesting book that makes it significant and unique is the attitude and conversational aspect of the writing. The subject matter is interesting, very helpful and very much worth reading by everyone on both sides of the consumer stance, but the writing is so exceptionally fine that the book stands on its own as a resource of solid stimuli for reflecting on how we think as we approach the marketplace. Highly recommended - for both those who are searching for methods to capture their audience as well as for those who simply want to understand the psychology of successful selling. Grady Harp
CynthiaWilliams_in_NC More than 1 year ago
Conversational Capital brings together several interesting concepts to give a fresh and new perspective on the business of product marketing. The idea of inviting the customer into the product experience through a "rite of passage" and then encircling the consumer with an holistic product experience with the end result being that product's devotee and spreading their enthusiasm for its impact on their lives like a contagious disease is extremely intriguing. It is obvious that the authors are believers in also using the latest social networking approaches as they sprinkle their with this aspect also into the content presented. Although some of the book's US-related product examples detailing elements of conversational capital seem overly simplified and in need of additional research, there are other international experiential examples that more thoroughly illustrate the eight elements of the concept such that the reader gets a clear understanding of the implemented approach might appear. The implementation section in the last chapters of the book provide a clear step-by-step guide making this material a valuable handbook to keep in a business person's office library of highlighted reference material.

Finally, it is intriguing to see that the authors use many of conversational capital elements in the construction of the book's chapters themselves. Each chapter's summary section tries to engage the reader in an intellectually holistic way. The author's not only share their knowledge, but try to actively engage the reader every step of the way. The only thing missing is a more appropriate shipping package for the book that formally starts the whole experience.
BizBookman More than 1 year ago
A Book Recommendation from Dan Beaulieu
Conversational Capital: How to Create Stuff People Love to Talk About
By: Bertrand Cesvet with Tony Babinski and Eric Alper
Copyright 2008 by FT Press
Price: $22.99 US/$24.99 Canada
Pages: 181 with Index
First we had books about creating a buzz and then we had Malcolm Gladwell¿s fascinating The Tipping Point and now we have the all important all new Conversational Capital. I say important because this book does not just talk about what creates interests in products it does not just talk about how to create a ¿buzz¿ with your products and services, no this book by Bertrand Cesvet with his associates Tony Babinski and Eric Alper shows you how to create products and services that will get people talking about your company. They show you how to develop product offerings so unique and so absorbing to the consumer that he can¿t wait to get out there and tell someone about his experience in using your products. Thus creating your company¿s¿conversational capital¿
The authors talk about experience, they talk about what it takes to move a solid consumer to a loyal fan to finally a ¿brand ambassador¿ for your brand. Using terms like; ¿salience¿, ¿resonance¿ an ¿residual value¿ they show you how to make sure that your consumers are so absorbed into your products¿ experience that they will want to tell everyone about it. That they will feel so much a part of your company¿s cachet that they will want to share it, let other people know about it and watch them become a part of it as well.
By making examples of such companies as Cirque de Soleil, Starbucks and IKEA they demonstrate what it feels when companies go way beyond providing entertainment, coffee or household furnishings to a point where they are an integral part of your life experience; an experience that you want to be a part of today and in the future.
We have all felt like this. We all know what it¿s like to walk into the giant `never closed¿ L.L. Bean store in Freeport, Maine; or be part of group waiting outside the giant blue striped Circus tent, sharing in the anticipation and build up of a Cirque de Soleil performance, knowing that what you are about to see will change you forever. We all know what loyalty feels like from the consumer¿s point of view. What we feel like when we just absolutely love something like an I-Pod or in my case right now my new Kindle.
Wouldn¿t you love to create the same kind of experience for your customers? Wouldn¿t it be great if you could make your customers your own ¿brand ambassadors? Well the nice thing is that by reading this book you can, because the authors, as I said earlier have gone much further than talking about companies that have developed this kind of success, rather this book also shows you how to make it happen for your company and your customers as well.
The book ends with a chapter on implementation. In clear and direct language they authors take your through a step by step method demonstrating how you can turn your own products and services that will incite conversational capital and turn your customers into brand ambassadors.
And you know what? Reading this book is fun. It¿s well written and entertaining as well as being instructional. If ever a business book could be called a ¿page turner¿ this is the one. Check out it out and change the way you do business forever.