Melissa Walsh

What Can Buzz Do for Your Biz?

Powerplay Communications | April 2011 | What Can Buzz Do for Your Biz?

Looking for a promotional boost? Get buzz.

What is buzz? Promotional currency. It grabs attention, creates demand, and generates sales.

Give Them Something to Talk About Marketing gurus who unleash buzz well outthink their competitors without outspending them. How? By planting a water-cooler conversation topic into the heads of customer prospects. Embedded in that conversation is the product or service projected for promotion.

In his book Buzzmarketing, Mark Hughes dedicated an entire chapter to television’s most brilliant buzz success story: American Idol. Hughes summarized American Idol’s marketing coup this way: “What makes American Idol a buzz blockbuster? It fails on no front. It caught our attention. It pushed our buttons and got us talking. It showed its warts, not just its polish. It delivered a great product and created a means for empowered interactivity to take root, making us, its viewers, the costars every Wednesday night.” What’s more, Hughes explained, text-messaging grew expeditiously as the technology rode the show’s powerful buzz momentum. American Idol demonstrated how third-party businesses (in this case, cell-phone service providers) can benefit from buzz generated out of an unrelated industry. Therefore, today’s marketing savvy know-how includes paying attention to the buzz du jour, wherever it may be, and creatively leveraging its hype for the targeted product or service.

Buzz impacts the market emotionally. Because buzz is word-of-mouth marketing, it must be memorable and credible. From the viewpoint of the consumer, buzz is reciprocal. It’s engaging. The consumer feels empowered to further spread the buzz, negative or positive. It’s not a one-way vehicle that the consumer swerves to avoid with the click of the remote.

Push the Market’s Buttons Marketers attract consumer attention by unleashing product- or service-centric buzz that is funny, absurd, amazing, mysterious, raunchy, etc. Buzz should raise eyebrows. It must have an aha quality.

In his book, Hughes described the ”six push-buttons of buzz” as “the taboo, the unusual, the outrageous, the hilarious, the remarkable, and the secrets.” Buzz either shocks, awes, angers, or amuses the market or it feeds the inside scoop on a hot topic. Pushing these buttons, buzz is designed to achieve both marketing (grabbing consumer attention) and PR (grabbing media attention) goals for a business.

Once buzz is launched, the marketing folks watch for the market’s reaction, crossing their fingers that it’ll spread like wildfire as customer prospects tweet, like, and forward information in social media. They track how the market responds, protests, applauds, laughs, or gasps and begin calculating an ROI for their next marketing move.

Writers Know How to Buzz Buzz is creative content. If you’re looking to buy some buzz for your business, commission a writer. Follow these steps:

  1. Find a writer who knows your market.

Because buzz must be memorable, find a writer who is a good storyteller. Because buzz must be credible, ensure that the writer checks his or her big imagination with a healthy dose of integrity.

  1. Brainstorm with the writer.

Work with the writer to zero in on what’s silly, strange, or special about what you’re selling, what will get your market talking, guessing, opining, speculating, analyzing, or laughing.

  • Set marketing goals.

  • Develop a marketing mission statement.

  • Come up with a catchphrase or tagline that’ll flow with the buzz.

  • Have the writer pitch buzz story options with a rationale behind the expected market returns.

  • Make your decision.

Assume the risk. Pardon the cliché, but buzz requires a running-with-scissors approach.

  1. Launch the buzz.

Cross your fingers. Market reactions to buzz can be unpredictable.

  1. Track the results.

Use the data to calculate your ROI. Record lessons learned.

  1. Reap the benefits of buzz.

To learn more about the impact of buzz on a market and how to unleash it, check out the book Buzzmarketing by Mark Hughes. Looking for a buzz writer? Contact Melissa at Powerplay Communications.