Buzz marketing tools and methods
The following are tools a company can use to accelerate word-of-mouth.
The use of influential people
New products often spread among the public through interpersonal communication networks.
Within those networks, some people have more influence than others. A company can use those influential people to accelerate the adoption of its product and spread the word-of-mouth (Rosen 2000, p. 43).
The act of seeding means that a company hands out its product or a sample of it at strategic points in different networks. The idea is that by giving people in different networks the chance to experience a product discussion will be stimulated in multiple networks simultaneously (Rosen 2000, p. 153). Samples help a company to make a strong impression. The more things people can see, hear, feel and touch, the more likely they are to remember your message. The more they remember, the more likely they are to refer to you (Misner & Devine 1999, p. 150). However, research has proven that creating buzz by giving out samples only works for products that people talk about.
The use of scarcity or mystery
This concept relates to people’s thinking that if something is scarce or hard to get it is probably valuable (Cialdini 2000). In terms of a buzz marketing campaign it is not only about spreading the word but on the contrary about not spreading too much information and revealing things gradually over time. The concept of sneak previews for movies forms an example of this buzz marketing tool (Rosen 2000, p. 172).
The use of celebrities
Related to the use of influential people, a company can use celebrities. The difference between celebrities and ‘normal’ influential people is that celebrities spread information to more people than ‘normal’ influential people but it is mainly a one-way interaction (Rosen 2000, p. 47).
Take people ‘behind the scenes’
People are curious from nature and like to know how things work (Rosen 2000, p. 179). ‘Behind the scenes’ does not have to be taken literary but is about giving people inside information. Balter (2004) adds that people like to be the first to know something that enables them to teach others.
By creating a unique event a company can create and spread word-of-mouth. The idea behind this is that people talk about what they do and if they do or see something unique, like an event, it has a high chance of being mentioned (Rosen 2000, p. 186).
Companies hire hundreds of part-time staff to spread the word for their products in local markets. A good example is Nintendo, which often organizes national mobile-marketing tours where street teams show demo’s of the newest games (Spethmann et al. 2005).
Giving your brand personality
By creating a personality consumers can associate themselves with the brand. And if people can associate with a brand, they are more likely to talk about it.
This can be a variety of promotions ranging from a tell-a-friend button on an Internet site and referral programs, to more elaborate gift programs, all of which involve tools designed to make spreading the word easy and rewarding (Rosen 2000, p. 192). A company can decide if it includes an incentive in its tell-a-friend promotion. This can work but the reward should never be so big that people feel seduced to recommend a product (Rosen 2000, p. 202).
Online campaigns (‘virals’)
Viral marketing campaigns or simply ‘virals’ come in many styles but are often too much ‘on the edge’ for conventional TV or print media. They can also be ‘sub-viral’, where an ad which makes fun of a brand is secretly created by the brand itself and put online in the hope it will be passed on and create buzz for the name (Sauer 2004). Unfortunately, the increasing recognition that viral marketing is a viable strategy poses risks because an overabundance of low quality viral marketing could annoy surfers and ultimately cause them to ignore it altogether (Sauer 2004).
Companies have to keep in mind that consumers are also becoming increasingly accustomed to events (Reisman 2005) and that they have to keep inventing new things. New digital and wireless technology will create more possibilities for companies to let consumers ‘experience’ an event before they arrive and after they leave (Reisman 2005). Furthermore, by using buzz tools and creating more personal involvement with its customers, a company gets prime opportunities to improve knowledge of customer demands, preferences and needs. By acquiring feedback and more accurate knowledge of how to maximize return on investment, companies can gain competitive advantages (Reisman 2005).