Book Review: Buzz
by Marian Salzman, Ira Matathia and Ann O'Reilly
John Wiley & Sons
Creating Demand By Harnessing Influence
The authors of Buzz, three seasoned trendspotters who coauthored Next: Trends for the Near Future, know "buzz," and offer numerous tips and strategies for harnessing its power. Together, they present numerous case studies and examples of how buzz works, who is using it to grow, and how it can be used to get people talking about a product or service.
Buzz marketing is the state of the art, and has become the best way for companies to spread their messages and products to the mainstream. Using clever advertising techniques and product launches, marketers are learning to go beyond traditional advertising to reach their prospects, and the authors of Buzz have analyzed what it is and present it to help marketers tap its limitless potential.
They write that buzz marketing works because audiences have become so fragmented that traditional marketing practitioners can no longer reach them like they once did. Buzz works best when there is no clear forum for communicating a brand message to an audience because it taps those in the audience to do the advertising themselves. Hence, watching proactive consumers, otherwise known as "prosumers," embrace a brand works to introduce others to the product because everyone else wants to be like them.
The Buzz Chain
The authors explain that every individual in a "buzz chain" has the freedom to accept or reject a branding message, which empowers them. Because the marketplace assails everyone with about 3,000 marketing messages each week, more radical and creative solutions are necessary to break through the clutter and make an impact on the consumer. Creating buzz includes using old-fashioned advertising in fresh ways, as well as using shocking, compelling and sometimes controversial selling techniques to reach consumers. The authors write that buzz marketing is not the same as publicity stunts and promotional extravaganzas. They view these as fleeting moments of hype. Buzz, on the other hand, carries consumer interest through to continued brand loyalty while eliciting empowerment and delight, and is generally conveyed through a trusted source in a one-on-one format.
The way buzz moves from person to person is word of mouth. According to a recent report, this valuable medium is responsible for influencing 67% of sales of U.S. consumer goods. The authors point out that there are those among us who wield a powerful influence on others because of the minds they influence: Alphas. They place a premium on the acquisition of new experiences and information. They are "cool," approachable and generous with their knowledge and connections. Alphas distinguish themselves from other consumers with their:
- Insatiable hunger for stimulation.
- Disregard for convention.
- Urge to take risks.
The authors write that there is another group of consumers that could be an even greater asset when generating buzz. "Bees" are connected and communicative consumers who appropriate ideas from Alphas and translate them into usable and digestible information for the mainstream. Bees are buzz masters who serve as conduits through which information reaches the masses. The authors suggest that marketers should spend their time and money trying to reach Bees instead of Alphas because these are the people who actually move ideas and products.
The next step in generating buzz is focusing on the right Bees. The authors remind marketers that:
- People buzz about the ideas that have an impact on their lives: family, friends, romance, relationships.
- People buzz when they are given access to exclusive information, products or services.
- People buzz when they are passionate about something.
- People buzz about the shocking or unexpected.
The authors warn marketers that they cannot take credit for buzz: Prosumers are the ones who will take a brand's message to an extended audience.
Why We Like This Book
The authors of Buzz offer numerous insights into the world of buzz marketing by defining the concept and explaining how marketers can tap into this important phenomenon. By stressing the importance of authenticity, relevance, real role models, and word of mouth, the authors demonstrate the incredible power of buzz and offer many important tips to those who would like to harness it. While providing hundreds of examples of how buzz has been and can be used, the authors also reveal numerous current trends that can be extremely valuable for those who want to grasp this powerful tool and use it to charge their brands.
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