Article: What is a Buzz Marketing Campaign

By February 28, 2008General, Thought Leadership

What is a Buzz Marketing Campaign

and what are some cool ideas that you could adopt into your plan?

With the recent rumours that some London cabbies have been paid by an as yet unnamed company to eulogise their latest (also unnamed) product buzz marketing has, once again, been in the media spotlight…so then, just what is it?

Buzz marketing – a.k.a Word-of-mouth marketing or viral advertising – at its most basic is typically taken to describe face-to-face communication that talks up or promotes a product or service. In a wider sense it is a mode of promotion that has expanded to include phone conversations, text messages, web dialogue (blog posts, message board threads etc.) and emails under its umbrella.

It is, as a marketing form, highly valued by product marketers because of the highly personal nature of communications between individuals. It is generally believed that product information delivered in these communications has a significantly higher level or credibility than that delivered by traditional media. Research has suggested that the receiver of buzz marketing referrals tends to believe that the communicator is speaking honestly and is unlikely to have an ulterior motive (essentially that they are not being paid to have the opinion they hold).

Once this first dissemination of information has taken place, normally by a number of individuals viewed as “social connectors” (or, in other words, socially powerful and popular…the cool kids) it is hoped that the first recipients will, in turn, disseminate the information they have received to other so that, within a short space of time, the message spreads with all the rapidity of a virus (hence the other moniker “viral marketing”).

Now that we’ve told you exactly what buzz marketing is here are five ideas to bear in mind for any campaign you intend to run;

1. It must be original

Originality is a mighty weapon when pursuing a buzz campaign – people will talk more, and for longer, about an original event than they will about something they’ve seen before. Imagine if, around the UK, reports started coming that detailed sightings of farmers cows standing in their fields looking for all the world as if they had been painted** with your brand logo or message…of course, these days, something like that would be bound to raise a storm of controversy. But they say that any publicity is good publicity…

2. It helps if there’s an aspect of humour

Humour is one of the easiest ways to ensure something is passed on from one person to another. If you find something funny you will tell someone about it. If, for instance, you have a product which you think is better than a direct competitors’ do you think people are likely to talk about the 30 second TV ad you can afford telling the audience this simple fact…or is there a good chance they’ll talk far more about the 500 people in bear suits waving banners reading “We Can’t Bear To Let This Go On” and handing out leaflets containing a product comparison that you can plant in Trafalgar Square for the same price? I can tell you which one the national news will like more for a start…

3. It must be simple

Stick to big statements and clear messages – these are the ones which will filter into the public consciousness and be communicated between people. Your social connectors suggesting that your brand is “great” will be accepted at face value…if they say that it’s “66% more likely to satisfy than X brand” people will smell a rat sharpish. The same is true for any publicity stunts you have planned prior to the launch of the buzz campaign – keep them big, brash and, if you’re aiming for an edgy, hip market, just this side of legal or socially acceptable.

4. It must be timely

It’s no use having a brilliant, funny and topical campaign organised if it’s taken you six months to organise and the whole thing is now appallingly out of date. Either aim for timelessness or be prepared to implement a campaign at the drop of a hat. If it’s the latter, well, have someone watching the news as much as possible looking for an opportunity – it can really pay off.

5. It must be subtle

Your campaign must demonstrate some form of subtlety – people must never feel that there’s any kind of hard sell going on otherwise they’ll balk at your offerings. Instead of offering free tickets to the cinema once a form on part of your product packaging has been sent off and returned etc. etc. just stand outside the cinema offering free tickets courtesy of your brand or company. And leave it at that. No hard sell, just a free no strings attached gift. They’ll talk about it, be sure of that.

*Grewal, R., T.W. Cline, and A. Davies, 2003. Early-Entrant Advantage, Word-of-Mouth Communication, Brand Similarity, and the Consumer Decision-Making Process. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 13(3).

** Non-toxic food colouring is the best thing for painting cows with…and ask for permission

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