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Conversational Capital: How to Create Stuff People Love to Talk About Hardcover – August 7, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0137145508 ISBN-10: 0137145500 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: FT Press; 1 edition (August 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0137145500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0137145508
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,680,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Exclusive Conversation on Conversational Capital with Author Bertrand Cesvet

What is the most common mistake made by individuals seeking to harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing?
All too many individuals seeking to harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing focus on the vehicles through which word-of-mouth is perpetuated, rather than the triggers of word-of-mouth to begin with.

The number of times we've heard marketers yearn for a presence on social media or a user-generated content campaign is nauseating. Our response is pretty universal ~ it doesn't matter that you give your consumers a place to talk if they don't have anything good to talk about.

Thus, our central message is to focus not on the tools, but on the substance of conversations. The only way to create resonant and sustained word-of-mouth is to focus on the inherent value of the experience itself.

I found it interesting that Conversational Capital should not be termed "buzz." Why is this so important?
Buzz is something created around an experience rather than related to the experience itself. Let's say I put a pedometer in a box of Fruit Loops cereal and proceed to call it "healthy" because the pedometer encourages one to exercise. I've done nothing to change the experience or the nutritional value of the cereal itself - only created a stunt to project a temporal aura of "health."

Do smaller companies have an advantage in building Conversational Capital?
Being small isn't necessary, but it helps. Why? Because engineering and implementing Conversational Capital requires three things: 1) the ability to be nimble, 2) the capacity to be entrepreneurial (and thus embrace some degree of risk-taking) AND 3) the foresight to take a long-term view of the development of your brand, unconstrained by investors clambering for short-term profit-taking.

That being said, many large organizations have successfully preserved these three competences. Look at an organization like Southwest Airlines - the largest domestic air carrier in the US. The firm has managed to develop Conversational Capital principally because its empowered culture is by its very nature, entrepreneurial.

So in essence, the ability to act small is what matters more than being small.

How wary should marketers be with the double-edged sword of myth?
Myth must be rooted in some fundamental truth about the brand, the brand experience, or the brand's founding. Otherwise myth lives in the realm of lies, rather than as a story that's told and retold. Marketers can temper their wariness by ensuring that the myth(s) around their brand are continuous ~ it is continuity that keeps the cutting edge of that proverbial sword away from you.

What industries do you feel are under-utilizing Conversational Capital?
Industries that view their customers with disdain or an attitude of dismissiveness.

Look at the North American Air Transport sector. Airlines continue to pare service in a continuous quest for cost-cutting, thereby commoditizing themselves rather than developing the ability to build brands and extract premiums.

Look too to the North American Auto Industry. It is in crisis principally because it didn't listen to the talk around its brands. And it didn't build products worthy of conversation.

Many further examples exist, from education, to financial services, to telecom, to department stores. But ultimately, the realization must be apparent that not everyone can be a Conversational Capital king. But each industry should have its star(s).

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.

 


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Customer Reviews

The authors don't seem to have read any of those books.
M. L Lamendola
I found "Conversational Capital: How To Create Stuff People Love to Talk About" by Bertrand Cesvet with Tony Babinski and Eric Alper to be an interesting read.
Alain B. Burrese
If you want people talking about your product, read this book.
Mitchell R. Alegre

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By L. C Glover VINE VOICE on December 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Overall:
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The book is a high-level description of "Conversational Capital" or what makes a consumer into an active advocate for your brand combined with the description and benefits of lifestyle brands. The key concepts are: Rituals, Initiation, Exclusive product offering (EPO), Over-delivery, Myths, Relevant Sensory Oddity (RSO), Icons, Tribalism, Endorsement and Continuity. Each concept is given examples using well-known brands to help you understand the concept. The designing process is defined at a high-level with some useful tips. However, it does not really have anything revolutionary or even barely evolutionary.

If you have taken more than basic marketing classes, you will see the validity in the concepts but will be wishing for more substance on how to make your brands into the described brands.

Take-aways from the book:
Rituals -- "Rituals are behaviors or rites we engage in to mark certain activities as exalted. When ritual behavior becomes associated with a consumer experience, it is marked out as more resonant" (pg. 68)

Initiation -- "Initiation is a special subset of ritual. When consumers feel they have worked a little harder to acquire special knowledge of or access to a consumer experience, they feel set apart." (pg. 75)

EPO -- "EPO occurs when a consumer experience offers a notable degree of individualization. When you feel something has been designed just for you, or in a distinclty personal way, you can claim an experience as your own, it becomes more salient. EPO sings in high-end experiences, but we've also observed it in simple products such as Cracker Jack or the Kinder Egg." (pg. 83)

Over-delivery -- "Over-delivery is an aspect of EPO.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on November 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's a small book (under 200 pages with a glossary and index), and a quick read. As quickly as the book can be read, it's worth taking it in small chunks so you can think through the concepts and give time to considering how you might apply them to your own business.
The book is divided into three parts, defining conversational capital to begin with- what it is, what it isn't, how it works, why it's important. Businesses used as examples here include Cirque Du Soleil, Ikeo, and Schwartz's.
The second section expands on each of the eight engines of Coversational Capital:
Rituals, Initiation, Exclusive product offering (EPO), Over-delivery, Myths, Relevant Sensory Oddity (RSO), Icons, Tribalism, Endorsement and Continuity
The third, and shortest section, is implementation- here they discuss getting started, designing a solution, implementation, and a chapter called `and two more questions.' This is the weakest section of the book, but then, they can't be too specific, as only the people involved in a particular business are really qualified to think through whether or not there is some element of that business that could legitimately be developed into one of those eight engines listed above.
This is because none of those engines work if they are only facades, they have to be genuine. Businesses most successful at creating this impassioned level of customer connection succeed in one or more of those eight engines not just through marketing and hot air, but through honesty, sincerity, and integrity.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mike on October 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This poorly written book presents simple ideas in an incoherent way that attempts to appear novel and smart. After reading this book I was left with the sense the authors feel it is impossible to under estimate the intelligence of their readers/clients. The glossary contains words used in their normal sense but defined in a confused way, for example:

"multidisciplinary--Key to Fostering Conversation Capital is the act of assembling multidisciplinary teams. An effect team is assembled from A-listers who are not homogeneous, who come come from diverse educational, cultural, occupational and socio-economic realms."

The glossary contains similar jumbled definitions for smoked meat(?), insight, conversation, word-of-mouth, standardization,..., the list goes on but i won't.

I suggest reading Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and Influence: Science and Practice in particular the chapters titled "Social Proof", "Liking" and "Scarcity" to understand this topic better.

Their qualification for writing seems to be based around their involvement with Cirque du Soleil. As the saying goes "One Swallow doesn't make a Summer."

This book is self indulgent, bombastic nonsense--don't waste your time or capital.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By E. Moscato VINE VOICE on April 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am not a marketer. I am just a consumer that is influenced by, or ignores, the work of marketers and brand building. The foundation of this book is based on the Eight Engines of Conversational Capital summarized below:

1.) Rituals (formal actions that give an experience or event meaning)
2.) Exclusive Product Offering (experiencing and identifying with something unique and / or customized)
3.) Myths (stories that define culture)
4.) Relevant Sensory Oddity (stimulation and challenging of one's senses in an intense and meaningful way)
5.) Icons (this one is self-explanatory)
6.) Tribalism (draws like-minded people together in a mutual self / brand discovery process)
7.) Endorsement (not just by compensated celebrities, but by your customers as well)
8.) Continuity (alignment between what you promise, what people expect and what you deliver)

The book begins with part one by defining Conversational Capital and the above Eight Engines in detail and then is followed by three cases in the form of Cirque de Soleil, Ikea, and Schwartz's Delicatessen showing how the different engines operate for those companies. It then differentiates Conversational Capital from other non-traditional forms of marketing that it can be confused with; in the process, it makes the case that it transcends those comparisons.

Part two of the book has a chapter where it looks at each engine (and subsets of a few engines) in more detail and provides a bulleted list approach rattling off one-paragraph examples of how dozens of well-known firms demonstrate that particular engine.

Part three of the book provides solution design and implementation steps. This section falls a little short as it is 30 pages of a 170-page book.
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