Review: Join the Conversation by Joseph Jaffe

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Join the Conversation JaffejuiceI am officially Joining the Conversation, starting with this review of Joseph Jaffe’s latest book, Join the Conversation (JTC). In full disclosure mode, I am writing this review as part of Joe’s experiment UNM2PNM (how to use new media to prove new marketing).

Written in a very conversational style with a slew of real world corporate examples (typically of how NOT to proceed), JTC features Joe’s characteristic verve and bold statements that are bound to entice a few reactions from the world without. For the most part, I could only agree with Joe’s assessments and recommendations. Here are some of the points that I believe deserve highlighting:

  • Chapter 10: Why are you so afraid of Conversation? This wiki-chapter is a walk-the-talk (literally) example of new age collaborative writing. Via a wiki, people were invited to contribute and cross-edit freely, ending up with articles from sixteen marketeers giving their spin as to why people (and companies) don’t liberally join in the conversation. I was pleased to gain the autograph of Mitch Joel for his section, The New Power of the Individual (p 115).
  • In Chapter 15, Conversation through Community, I cite the Cluetrain Manifesto that defines community as “a group of people who care about each other more than they should.” That’s a Valhalla concept for a brand to achieve. But, getting that to happen means figuring out how to get to the bottom of CARE. As Joe says later, “[b]rands have to know their role and place in conversation. Truthfully, it an extremely loose, amorphous, and situational role that not only changes from case to case but indeed may evolve and shift within a single conversation.” (p 187). Not a piece of cake, but that’s what it will take to do successful marketing in the new age.
  • The Dell Case, where John Cass (Research Fellow) describes the rules of engagement: “You have to be transparent. You have to be fact-based. You must be conversational. And you have to be rapid with your response…” (p 286). As Joe says, the art of conversation (and humour for that matter) is in the timing. But, I was curious how that holds true when, on the following page, Joe says that “it is never too late to join the conversation.”
  • The RFiD grid (page 203, 205) felt a little forced. It’s a catchy moniker; but, specifically, I found recency a little confusing (if not contrived) when used to describe time elapsed between visits. Recency is all about the last time someone visited, which relates to the “newness.” That said, the notion of the shortness of gaps between visits is a novel, if unproven measurement of satisfaction.
  • In characteristic Jaffe-ness, in chapter 18, bouncing off author Seth Godin’s post, Joe elaborates a Manifesto for Experimentation. Here is the key: “To be successful, marketing organizations will need to foster and adopt an aggressive and intensive culture of experimentation, risk-taking, change management (for communications), and creativity.”
  • Wasn’t totally enamoured with the expression “transformational change” (page 262), but I subscribe to the notion of the “spiraling” line in terms of the process of innovation in a company. And, yes, failure is a vital ingredient… just like falling is an important part of learning how to ski. Besides which, if you don’t fall, typically, you are not skiing hard enough.
  • We know that prosumer is quickly becoming mainstream when it is wikipedia; but give credit where it is due…the term was coined by Alvin Toffler back in 1980 (in his book, The Third Wave).

Meanwhile, how ironic that the 2K bloggers — the face of the blogosphere, the blog of bloggers blogging — that were part of the creation of the JTC book are in the throes of converting their own website from a blog to a forum… 2k forumers doesn’t sound quite as good.

I have not read yet the JTC alter-ego, The Age of Conversation which just did a rather similar campaign of an Amazon bumrush (was the week of March 29)… I get the feeling that bumrushing is part of the age of new marketing, too. This book, edited by Gavin Heaton and Drew McLellan, is a compilation of 400-word essays by 100 bloggers on the topic of conversation. Taking Joe’s Chapter 10 concept all the way, it is obviously a 100% collaborative effort. Anyway, you can order The Age of Conversation at Amazon.

In any event, Join the Conversation is a must read for any new media marketiers (marketing + frontier mashup) out there — and hopefully for the old-world marketers as well.

It’s not exactly like me to promote anything to do with cigarettes, but this 1960’s ad by Newport seemed to strike a chord (if not a match, made in heaven). The conversation per se is only symbolic, but this ad does speak to the limitation of television’s one-way communication.

Very enterprising and forward thinking work, no? What do you think? (Joe, u2!) No doubt there are other examples that I’d love to hear about from you. And let me know your feedback on JTC or just this post on JTC.

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