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«DIESEL 75 QUEEN, SUITE 1400, MONTREAL QC CANADA H3C 2N6 T 514 282.2200 F 514 282.0499 INTRODUCTION The increasing ubiquity of ...»

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Create meta-stories Simply aggregating drivers of conversational capital such as myths, icons and relevant sensorial oddities cannot guarantee positive conversational capital. To maximize their potential for conversational capital, storytelling elements must be aligned into coherent meta-stories that can be discovered by consumers. The meta-story is the strategic intent that drives the engineering of conversational capital. For instance, an airline using conversational capital as the basis for the redesign of its first class service, may use an idea like “creating the most surprising air travel experience in the world” as it’s starting point of meta-story. Designers, operations, products, and marketing communications specialist would the use the eight drivers of conversational capital to create the experience that will ultimately lead clients to say something like: “My last flight to Paris was the most surprising air travel experience I have ever had, etc, etc.” Embrace conversational capital as subjective Meta-stories are no more, and no less than strategic intent. The conversational capital paradigm recognizes and even cherishes the fact that consumers are in control. Consequently, meta-stories are only suggestions and consumers are free to create their own personal stories about their consumer experiences. For example, certain people may come out of a Cirque du Soleil show talking about the iconic costumes, whilst other may discuss the ritual of having the clown managing the crowd before the show. Marketers have to let go, they must be willing to let consumers take full ownership of their conversational capital and they mustn’t expect it to remain the same overtime.

Intensity matters Marketers seeking to create conversational capital for their brand experiences must take calculated risks and execute violently! Our research shows that, for instance, rituals, icons and sensory oddities that are too subtle, remain simply unnoticed by consumers!

Authenticity matters Consumers are very good at spotting marketing ploys that are either not genuine or overengineered. Creative, authentic and sincere efforts to create orchestrated storytelling elements of a consumer experience are a lot more likely to make a positive contribution to storytelling capital.

Consistency is good…and bad Storytelling elements and meta-stories cannot be constantly changing. Without a certain amount of consistency in the crafting of icons, rituals and other drivers of conversational capital, positive contribution to conversational capital is very hard to achieve. On the other hand, experiences that are not marginally renewed can become dated. The authors of this article believe that effective management of conversational capital in a lifecycle perspective is a major challenge that requires a lot of attention from marketers and product development specialists.

CONVERSATIONAL CAPITAL CAVEATS

CONCLUSION

We believe that conversational capital is an extremely powerful tool to promote strong branded products/services experiences…as well as to destroy them. We all remember Planet Hollywood. When the concept got introduced it appeared to have all the right ingredients necessary to enjoy strong conversational capital: strong endorsement, rock and roll icons, odd use of space, just to name a few. At the beginning, this concept did enjoy a great deal of positive conversational capital, allowing it to become, without any significant advertising and/or promotional efforts, a commercial success. Unfortunately, consumers soon discovered that the Planet Hollywood experience lacked authenticity, intensity and, quite frankly, good food! As soon as these facts became known by a large enough number of patrons, its conversational capital became negative just as quickly as it had become positive, thus killing the concept in a very short period of time.

Momentum appears to play a key role in the development of conversational capital.

Using Mr. Gladwell’s terms, conversational capital must reach some kind of “tipping point” before it becomes a fully potent driver of word of mouth. Once that tipping point is reached, it is difficult to control or even influence how consumers use their conversational capital. Even though we have yet to empirically investigate conversational capital momentum, we have a fairly good sense that branded products/services experiences that enjoy strong conversational capital face significant lifecycle management issues.

The idea that conversational capital has an economic value and can be engineered is still in its infancy. However, we believe that in today’s experience economy, this concept can become a primary driver of brand development.



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