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Buzz Marketing Conference

Posted on October 7, 2008 and read 1,970 times

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Blogging. Word of mouth. Grassroots social networks. These mediums and more can all fall under the category of Buzz marketing, the overlying theme for Infopresse’s Montreal conference last week. We at ihaveanidea were privileged to attend this event, to learn about different perspectives about what puts the buzz in buzz marketing.

The day started quite early with two speakers from Massy-Forget PR and Rogers Publishing sharing their companies’ experiences with word-of-mouth and generating positive buzz. All in all, short and fairly informative.

After a short break, DDB’s Worldwide CCO took centre stage. Now we always thought Bob Scrapelli had the privilege of having such a title on his business card, but it turns out he’s got to share it with Jeff Swystun, Chief Communications Officer – a new title and position DDB Worldwide is establishing to deal with the new consumer playing field.

Jeff had an interesting theory about how consumers and communities act as one big school of fish, or flock of birds, where there’s no leader, but they still manage to move in a precise and coordinated fashion. It’s not an audience in the traditional sense, as they are sharing intelligence with each group member and using it to move the group forward. And that’s what we all do these days – that is the new playing field for advertisers. New technology gives us easier access to the people who influence us, be it family, friends or brands. This influence is an invaluable asset to brands and must be measured and managed.

As we’re still experiencing with social networks, and can’t really predict the future, Jeff suggested we prepare our industry best to at least limit the surprises we might get. In his eyes, every company needs to equip itself with a CCO. The Chief Community Officer will be the constant bridge between a brand and its consumers, at least at DDB that is (we wondered if this new role at DDB is just another version of what account planners do at other

Next up was the conference’s Keynote Speaker: Sid Lee’s Bertrand Cesvet, describing an approach they developed to define how a conversation is started around a product.

Some products have something unique that makes people want to talk about them, and even write stories about them without provocation. Be it a funny or fascinating story, a surprising experience around them, or even a myth started by some drunk guy that’s spread out to members of his group, then the world.

These small things usually make a world of difference, and that’s what the fine people at Sid Lee call Conversational Capital. They insist, Conversational Capital is not something that can be controlled, but rather leveraged by making consuming experiences more and more powerful.

It’s also the title of their new book that shows readers “how to create stuff people love to talk about.”

It’s not about consumer satisfaction. Satisfaction has become the very least a brand must achieve to get noticed. Satisfaction won’t get your brand talked about.

To be successful, a brand needs to go beyond satisfaction, and that’s where the stories, and mythical status of some products come into play. Moleskines are more interesting than regular black notebooks, Guinness beer is brewed in Ireland, and the recipe is more than a hundred years old, which makes it a lot more special than other beers, and so on. Consumers are more likely to talk about these products than about their other more banal consuming experiences.

Over the years, some brands have been able to develop that instinctively through entrepreneurial genius, but the new challenge for advertisers is to trigger this reaction for their clients. An agency’s role should not be limited by the confines of print, TV, radio, online and whatever they are calling integrated these days. Agencies need to get involved in the design of products and experiences around the products their clients have them advertising. Because at the end of the day, if the products themselves don’t live up to being the very best, the only thing your word-of-mouth effort may result in might only be “buzz”, which isn’t real, or long lasting.

Conversational Capital: How to Create Stuff People Love to Talk About, is a book about engineering word-of-mouth into brand experiences.

Authors Bertrand Cesvet, Tony Babinski and Eric Alper began by deconstructing the drivers of word-of-mouth. What they’ve put together in this book is a collection of insights and observations about how positive word-of-mouth is generated and how their concept of Conversational Capital turns marketing on its head.

Conversational Capital is an ongoing exploration and a theory in constant evolution. The authors of Conversational Capital share eight key ingredients to embedding the makings of word-of-mouth into every consumer encounter with brands. They term these elements the Eight Engines of Conversational Capital, which when fed into a product experience, do two things for the experience in question: 1) making it meaningful, and 2) making it intense.

The books website – – is an open invitation to take part in the process of defining what is out there that truly has the power to make our consumer relationships and experiences richer (there is also a lot video and links on the website).

When we were leaving the Buzz Marketing conference Bertrand Cesvet graciously invited us to the book’s launch party for Sid Lee clients – many of which have been instrumental in the book coming together. We obviously had to go to the party, if only for the food and champagne.

Over the next few weeks we will be writing a full book review for ihaveanidea and looking for other examples to evaluate the Conversational Capital theory further to find out what makes an individual move from a mere consumer of products to a loyal customer or brand ambassador?

In the meantime, to get you started on understanding the Conversational Capital theory…

The Eight Engines

1. Rituals are an essential part of how human beings create and formalize meaning. The presence of ritual marks out an experience as deeper in meaning – a phenomenon that is true for consumer experiences, as well.

2. Exclusive Product Offering (E.P.O.) is about allowing consumers to create an experience that asserts and actualizes their individuality.

3. Myths are the narratives that become part of the very fabric of consumption because they provide important clues as to fundamental meaning of that act.

4. Relevant Sensorial Oddity (R.S.O.) is about challenging our senses with something extraordinary, marking an experience as unique.

5. Icons are signs and symbols that clearly demarcate a consumption experience from any other.

6. Tribalism is about the power of a brand experience to inspire the association of like-minded people.

7. Endorsement is not about celebrity — it’s about how the meaning and intensity of a brand experience naturally lead to credible people organically endorsing it.

8. Continuity is a strong indication of reputation, a fact that rests on the unity between what you promise, what people expect and what you deliver.

Jay Thompson
VP of Stuff

Rafik Belmesk
Operations, AKOS

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