The “semantics” of conversation

The End of Conversation” describes some interesting thoughts on brand conversation. While a lot of CEO’s/CMO’s/CxO’s look at conversation as the one and only next big thing, Mitch Joel (@mitchjoel) thinks different. For his thoughts I refer to the initial article on the TwistImage  Blog, but I really want to put some side notes on the semantics of conversation which can add to the discussion/conversation about the future of brand conversation.
Basically conversation is 2 people talking. So are brand able to talk? Do you want to talk with a brand? Mitch Joel writes about how he looks at conversation in this way…brands hardly conversate, because a brand isn’t able to conversate. Good point, and straight forward questions like “Did a brand talk to you?” “Did a brand comment on your blog post or comments?” …. point out that conversation is more than just brands talking to you. Probably your favorite brand didn’t thank you for buying its products, nor did they start an engaging conversation with you on the future of their brand of products….So why is everybody so full off conversation as the next big thing?

First of all conversation is a lot more than just 2 people having a talk. Especially if you talk conversation in business, Mitch Joel concludes that for brand conversation isn’t important, standing out is, so people share your advertising or (commercial) message. Instead of focussing on the conversation a company again need to focus on the brand and the message (McLuhan?!) instead of the media….In 2012 traditional media and traditional message (shouting/pushing) is declining, so I don’t believe with a traditional approach of building a strong message you can stand out! You need to get your message across, and that’s the true conversation challenge….More and more people aren’t using traditional media anymore, other more personnel media are used to communicate and conversate, so as a brand you should acknowledge  this new media channels.  Along with this new media channels, new habits and techniques arise (McLuhan?!)…these social media channels are more than just one way communicating channels where you can push your message across!

It’s a community effort to converse

Yes, you need the engagement of your community to team up with you. Your brand community is your true conversation power, not the brand itself (your brand isn’t a person is it?!). Your brand ambassadors are building your brand conversation in their community (word-of-mouth it works! If you’re not convinced? check the Morgensons experiment by Martin Lindstrom).

Therefore you need to give the power of your brand to your brands community. This is the true challenge for every company, transferring the power of the message to the customers and developing a structural honest relationship with you consumers.  This calls for a “conversation mindset” within the company, changing the company culture is inevitable!  And off course…in the end, it’s not about the conversation, but about selling the product! BUT in my opinion conversation, in a broad sense, can be the (key) element to get your message across.

Flat Statement: The power of your community is the power of your conversation.

The End Of Conversation –

Posted in Flat Business, Flat Statement
18 comments on “The “semantics” of conversation
  1. Hans Francken says:

    I find this an intresting article! I think that as long as a company can get its customers to share their experience in a postive and a creative way, word of it will spread arround pretty fast!

  2. Magalie Descamps says:

    It is obvious that you trust your closest friends more than a huge company trying to sell their products. But I think that a good amusing and funny commercial is still effective as well. As long as they keep it original.

  3. Didier Van Hove says:

    When you look at product placement in movies, tv-shows, … , for some people – like me – this sometimes works better than seeing commercials or hearing about it, it’s mostly also just about gadgets or stuff, but by having it you can associate yourself with that person or try to live in that moment. Some extreme examples are like when they first aired the show ‘Miami Vice’ back in the 80s, and they saw Don Johnson driving that Ferrari, you have no idea how much the car-sales went up that year, the same with Magnum PI. When the Bond franchise stopped their contract with Rolex and went to the much cheaper (but still expensive) Omega watches, the Seamaster Professional in 1995, the sale rates of that model increased massively, as in 2012, they still call it ”The Bond Watch” and sells like candy, because it’s more open to the public than buying some expensive Rolex. Not to talk about the impact that ‘MacGyver’ had to Victorinox (the Swiss Knife Industry).

  4. Anca Mihaela Scutaru says:

    It’s a really interesting article. I have never thought in this way. I always said that the brand can talk using his image and impact on society. It is really difficult to transfer the power to your brand. But seems that this is the way to success.

  5. Hubinon Alicia says:

    Today, the consumer is no longer duped! A simple advertising is no longer enough to the viewer. If you want to touch deeply the public, you must give them dreams, feelings, make them think that they are important and that they interest you. In addition, the brand must be intelligent, stand out, offer something different that will remain etched in consumer’s minds.
    Using the semantic conversation applies these ideals to give something deeper, truer and they will feel more affected. It will bring trust and encourage repeat purchase… They will have the sensation that they are less threatened but that we are just concerned about their own life.

  6. Alexander De Winter says:

    I think there isn’t a better way to sell goods when you have word of mouth marketing. Everybody relies on their closest friends to get info or tips about products. But, I think it’s not easy for brands to get their community in a position where they start talking about their product and start recommending a specific product to someone else. It’s easier for brands that have a unique product like a sport car. They create a community through the quality of their products. And they can use communication through social media for making this community stronger.

  7. Denis Vandepitte says:

    As said in the article: communicating and getting the brand name out there in a creative way have to go hand in hand. It creates an image around the company. If the message comes across in a pleasant, interesting way, and if the values this brand brings forward relate to the values you as a person have put high on your list, it can affect your buying behavior massively I think. You wouldn’t even look at other brands who sell the same product.

  8. Lara G.F. says:

    This is a very interesting article. When a company has to its customers everything he does and does not do, makes her more confidence and make more passion for their brand. This makes me realize the flame of tradition is powering down slowly and technology we will have day by day closer to us.

  9. A great example is Manna ( #manna on twitter or @Johan_Br ) He’s managing the conversation and by doing so he gets all these social objects to put on the Facebook page.

    And I personally find it odd he does this through his personal account instead of a Brand account but it tend to work. I don’t even know if it would be such a success if he did.

  10. Mª Teresa Poyo says:

    “Your brand ambassadors are building your brand conversation in their community”. I think this is the big truth nowadays. We trust our relatives and peers, ask for their opinions and at the same time give yours to them. Everything is about trust. And that is precisely what the companies need to do, success in getting that trust from their customers by taking them into consideration, otherwise it will not be possible to establish a relationship with them

  11. Jasmien Hendrickx says:

    Everytime I want to buy an expensive product, I first read a few reviews about it. For example: I want to buy a new camera. Therefor I watched a few review videos on YouTube. Then, I read about it on a photography blog and looked at test photos. This is plausible. I don’t trust advertisements anymore. I’d rather believe the opinion of a peer.

  12. “So are brands able to talk? Do you want to talk with a brand?” Makes me instantly think about Steven Van Belleghem’s presentation. Its Not when a brand say’s its good that people will be convinced. No it’s the Word Of Mouth, its when people tell other people about their experiences. The power of your community is the power of your conversation.

  13. Andy Schnell says:

    In the presentation at the FHV the model of IKEA was the perfect example for the customer communication with the brand. They created a facebook profile where you could link your name on furnitures and if you are first you get it for free!!!…and so the customers made the advertising for IKEA. The customers were part of the brand and could communicate on the same level.

  14. Alexander Seibel says:

    Really interesting…companies have a really good opportunity to start a “conversation” with potential customer. But thats not all. The transparency makes them attackable. Companies have to think good in being part of social media. It can help you to enroll your business but aswell dont undervalue the power from the mass. It can bring you down aswell!

  15. Michael Sickinger says:

    “Do what you say….” is very important I think. If you communicate something you can`t give to your customer. Or the customer notice that what you say in your commercial isn`t true or the same you are screwed. (Like the NOKIA lumina you told us in your lecture at Dornbirn) BMW says in their commercials “driving pleasure”. And my BMW talks every day to me while I am driving. “Do what you say, say what you do…..”

  16. Markus Mutter says:

    Communication is a very important thing for brands i think. And it´s for sure more then just two people talking … wikipedia calls it “the activity of conveying information through the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals, writing, or behavior”. So everything i hear about a brand is communication. It´s the brand that tries to directly talk to me or some people that talk about the brand. It´s advertisement or word to mouth…

  17. Thomas Fedrigotti says:

    “Did a brand talk to you?” “Did a brand comment on your blog post or comments?” They don’t…or did it? We had to asked: who is the brand? The company; the employees; the customer; the environment or maybe the technology? Brand is always a multidimensional phenomenon. So what I wanna say: could a brand really not talk? Or talk the brand thru people, employees, environment? A brand is a living thing. How can a living thing don’t talk?

  18. Brigitte Ortlieb says:

    No-one would deny that the engagement of your community to team up with you is a main enabler and that the brand community is the true conversation power. And also that you need to transfer the power of the brand to the brand community also by developing a structural honest relationship with the consumers.
    But how do you do it? –> one excellent explanation comes from Simon Sinek explaining the success of Apple: The Golden Circle: People don´t buy what you do but why you are doing it.

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