Buzz marketing, as a way in which marketers can slip their products into the public consciousness (and therefore into the mainstream culture of that public), is a term that carries a certain number of controversies.
It’s entirely feasible that a digital marketer can look at the concept and say ‘yes, but isn’t that just guerrilla marketing?’ or, ‘yes, but isn’t that just social media marketing?’ and he’d be right. We had that exact scenario here at EnCoCreative, when the topic first came up.
In fact, what you call it is less important than what it does, or what you do to make it work. Terms are useful because they give us a label or a handle through which we can shape our understanding of the concept or strategy needed, but ultimately it’s about accessing popular influence and hopefully creating a legacy behind it that stays with the product or brand for a long, long time.
So, how do you make buzz marketing work for you?
There are two main routes through which you, as a business owner, can make the world aware of your products and brand via public influencers.
Buzz marketing as a happy circumstance
Buzz marketing doesn’t need a massive marketing budget in order to make things happen. Sometimes the product just has to be good; people start chatting about it, maybe tweeting the company whose product it is. Before you know it, those tweets have been retweeted, and those retweets have generated more interest.
Give it a few discussions on Facebook later, and with enough people getting involved, you might even see your product featured on the trending widget. Which, of course, leads to even more interest.
Buzz marketing is really why we try to stimulate conversations using platforms like Twitter and Facebook; we know that once people are hooked into the online discussion, they’re likely to stay. It works a little like fishing in this way: cast the bait, wait, cast again, wait, cast again … reel ‘em in. The bigger the fish you catch, the more effective the buzz, so if you identify and target some of the key influencers within your product’s market, you can really make a difference to your marketing.
Buzz marketing as a deliberate technique
The Internet is a mighty virtual world, filled with people who appear to know what they’re doing: Twitterers with millions of followers; bloggers who make a living from it; no matter where they are and what they do, if they do it within the sphere of your industry or your market, they’re useful people to have on board. Marketing gurus like to call these ‘influencers’, and they join the ranks of other more obvious types of influencers, such as movie stars, sports stars, and other people in the public domain.
So how do you get influencers ‘on board’? (It’s easier than you think, by the way).
Bloggers love free samples. Whether they’re food samples, sex toys, kitchen gadgets or cars, if you send a professional blogger some samples of your amazing product, they’ll write about it for you. Most of the time they’ll be positive about it, after all, it’s only polite when someone has sent you something nice.
The same goes for the rich and famous and for anyone with reach; everyone loves something good for free, no matter how much money they earn.
Once your influencers have done their part of the bargain, by wearing your clothes in public, driving your car for a week, or talking about your products on their chosen platforms, their followers will start the next part of the process. They reblog, retweet, start online discussions in forums and on social media, and the whole marketing experience can mushroom in a very cost-effective and deceptively organic way. It really does work like this.
When can it all go wrong?
When a product isn’t as good as it appears to be, or when a brand organisation has in fact not been so honest with the world of users than it purports; that’s when the buzz can go a bit wrong for them. Take the video game company that, when faced with an inferior product and a looming launch date, decided that it should produce a single level and totally mind-blowing version of the game for bloggers and reviewers alone. It did that, it blew their minds, and then released a game that was simply not very good. And which bore nearly no resemblance to the review version.
What do you think happened? It wasn’t good, put it like that. The moral of the story is that marketers should not treat their customers and definitely not their influencers like idiots, especially when they’re relying on the tenets of free speech and free will to organically grow their campaigns.
Why is buzz the best way to market a brand?
Obviously the most thorough way to promote a product is to hit the market using many media, with many clever devices, but for those smaller businesses that maybe don’t have the financial resources to back their product through TV commercials and billboards, buzz marketing is a great concept that can work wonders with a relatively low cost.
Are there any innovative techniques you’ve noticed that seem to pull in influencer support better than others?