This is a book about “word-of-mouth” marketing. In the introduction, the author’s assert: “Nothing is more powerful than when consumers make your story part of their story. This 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-of-mouth communication represents exactly the opposite. Unlike mass marketing, it’s carried ‘horizontally’ from peer to peer, so it has more power and authority. Consumers who believe in a certain brand experiences and are vocal about their belief are the carriers. Like a virus, it spreads on contact fast.”
To become something that is carried person to person, an experience has to be salient, produce resonance and have residual value. To be salient, and experience has to most noticeable or important. Resonant experiences are those that strike a deeper chord because they cause exploration, action, thought and interaction with others. Residual value results from an experience that remains in consciousness after the immediate encounter has ended.
The authors describe eight engines of conversational capital: rituals, exclusive product offering, myths, relevant sensory oddity, icons, tribalism, endorsement and continuity. “The presence of one or are all of them in a consumption experience helps to make that experience more resonant, richer in saliency, more relevant and more memorable. This in turn increases consumer satisfaction, which drives positive word-of-mouth consumer support.”
• Rituals are an essential part of how human beings create and formalize meaning.
• Exclusive product offering implies that the consumer can purchase or experience something unique.
• Myths are the narratives that become part of the very fabric of a consumptive experience because they provide clues as to what the experience is supposed to men.
• Relevant sensory oddity results from providing a sensory experience that is special but reinforces the overall consumptive experience.
• Icons are signs and symbols that clearly demarcate a consumption experience from any other.
• Tribalism is created through making the consumer feel part of a special group.
• Endorsement happens when a trusted authority praises you in a spontaneous and genuine manner.
• Continuity results from integrity, when who you are, what you say you are and what others say you are are close together.
The authors devote a chapter to each of these engines. They also discuss how they all work together, and how to get started. They use examples of well known endeavors like Cirque du Soleil and IKEA.
The book is interesting to read, and laid out well for true learning. It would especially be valuable for team because each chapter has questions and other ideas for discussion. It has a web site and online discussion groups. And, it’s the first book I’ve read that has a way to use your mobile camera phone to access conversations online about the book.
Conversational Capital: How to Create Stuff People Want to Talk About
Bertrand Cesvet with Tony Babinski and Eric Alper
Pearson Education (2009) 170 pages