Think of it as Jujitsu
[» Martial arts]
The ins and outs of Kinepolis' latest e-strategy.
Kinepolis, originally uploaded by Pieter Baert.
To Kinepolis it had always been about shouting, talking without listening, assuming not asking. So when we sat around the table with Kinepolis for the first time, somewhere last year, we decided to take it one step at a time. [» How it all started] It seemed obvious we should start with listening. Luckily Kinepolis had build up a huge amount of contacts in their database (so sorry, I'm very bad at remembering numbers but I'd say like 400000 or so, could be lots more, I'm modest, if you know the number please comment) so asking questions would be to hard to get our 'new behavior' going. A large questionnaire was compiled listing a wide range of questions. The questionnaire was mainly focused on topics that concern the satisfaction of the visiting customer. Evidently this questionnaire is key for setting out the new goals Kinepolis and ProximityBBDO wanted to strive for. [» Marrying an agency] Gathering info on what the customer desires of a cinema and entertainment experience today is crucial for starting to build around the axis most important for creating a better Kinepolis. After all Kinepolis has been about
innovative drive and a customer-friendly approach from the start, so they say. The response rate on the questionnaire was satisfying, allow me to even say huge, enormous (again, damn numbers, comment-section please). That info is being scrambled as we speak. Of course just sending out a questionnaire and asking people "what would you do if you ran a cinema" isn't quite enough to get the ball on fire. It was the tipping point of the behavior change though. A green light to start engaging with the new way things work nowadays. Now the motor was up and running the wheel had to be grabbed and seat belt buckled up.
Next, without throwing out a bait, we would listen. Listen to what people are saying to each other about the Kinepolis venues, about the cinema experience, about how they live the entertainment. And where, of all places, could we hear that story best, indeed: the internet. The chance of picking up a conversation about Kinepolis by just walking up the street is nearly nonexistent. So we were designated to using watchlists, searchbots and alertservices for finding out where the conversations were taking place. The results, yes I'm honest from the top down, were rather negative. And
some conversations didn't just sit there being negative waiting to be discovered, no.
Some conversations were marching on, upwards, raving like a mad bull at a red blanket. I recall one night in a place called
the Matrix ...
A group called Facebook
Someone had started a new group on Facebook someone who didn't quite like the Kinepolis management. The group was called "Kinepolis gaat erover" (= Kinepolis crossed a line). By that time the group was supported by about 5000 fans, or joiners. By the end of that day the tribe doubled, vastly expanding, spreading like a lean mean virus. Kinepolis was 'attacked' by the power of the masses and they were not ready to talk back. As you know we were at the embryonal stage of sending out a bloody questionnaire. 2 days later, the founder (
David Callens), starred nationwide spitting out about what is wrong with the management of Kinepolis. Criticizing the organization top down, stripping it from it's pride, throwing all members of the board into a roaring ocean of bad news without being offered a life jacket. [» Who is Druppels]
David had a point on some topics, others were a shout out of unfounded madness but clearly a desperate cry for attention. Kinepolis had to start listening and it did. But, Kinepolis wasn't ready to take on this massive swing. And remained ducked down for the time being. Left, standing, out there, in the middle of nowhere. Naked. Beaten.
Spandex and speakers
In the eighties Kinepolis was a huge success. Mainly due to their innovative approach introducing THX Dolby Surround. "The audience is listening" was their motto those days. Nowadays they are bound to learn the hard way that "the audience is participating". Of course we were eager to help them out as it is as hard on us to see clients suffering as it is to mothers hearing their babies cry.
[» Calling in the bloggers]
Gather all (most...) influential bloggers in town (Belgium). Boys (and girls) with thousands of readers, an audience. Amongst which, lots of Kinepolis lovers and Facebook members. Tell them the story of that one local cinema that grew to be the international enterprise? it is now. Tell them the truth, be open and honest. don't hide, take it like a man and above all "don't get defensive". Listen. be transparent about yourself and your company and above all be human. Act normal. Talk. After all, it can't get any worse.
Nothing to lose.
The result was a cosy gathering of Belgian blogosphere influentials. But don't be fooled. It wasn't all that sunshine, happiness and rainbows. No. It takes great courage and nerves of steal to face a mob like them. Bloggers were called and invited by Enchante. Enchante specializes in business relationships with bloggers and positions itself as being able to establish the perfect link between a brand and the exact right blogger. These bloggers were invited without being given a thorough background of the situation.
I was there that evening.
Listen, think, talk
Inviting this specific crowd was a risk, to us, to Kinepolis. We could lose a client. They could drown a lot deeper, a lot deeper. After all this mass of bloggers represented a huge amount of '(online) media space'. There opinions post are were the eyeballs walk. The influencers were on our side. A crowd that is so trained in seeing scams through would have noticed on the spot if they were being tricked into a trap. It was obvious, we were naked. We didn't beg for help, a story was being told. An honest story, a story from the heart, transparent and sincere. The next day, the conversation started. Bloggers were pushing out and they were on our side. Of course still sceptical about many topics listed on the Facebook group. Of course criticizing current issues. But overly, positive. Moreover, David ended his activities on the Facebook group and posted out to
the 42891 members that his mission was accomplished. Kinepolis had listened to the Groundswell. Kinepolis had started talking. And now, so he ended, "dear Kinepolis, now, we are listening."
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