Discussing the Book of the Month
August 2005 – Buzzmarketing
Each year, 23,000 new products hit U.S. shelves, trailing a spectacle of advertising and hype in their wake. Problem is, the more advertisers plug their products, the more consumers just plug their ears. Author Mark Hughes’s solution: Quit shouting and get people talking. Hughes isn’t the first to explore the power of word-of-mouth marketing. Hughes isn’t likely to have the last word on buzz either, but here’s what he adds to the canon: a historical perspective. Hughes dissects some of the best buzz coups of all time — Apple’s “1984” ad, Ford’s original Mustang debut, Fox’s American Idol, and even the story of Rit Dye powder in the late 1960s, which bested its rival Tintex by tapping into tie-dye-loving hippies. As good as the stories can be, is there really a recipe for buzz? Hughes does offer some solid ground rules for generating word-of-mouth attention. Best among these are the hands-on fixes where marketers really get involved in the production and design of the product. And that’s what lets Buzzmarketing just barely escape being old whine in a new bottle.
Talk about these Buzzmarketing ideas:
- Mind your media. The average news article gets six times as many readers as the average advertisement. Grab attention with celebrities, controversy, or a David-and-Goliath story, such as Ben & Jerry’s protesting at Haeagen-Dazs headquarters in the early 1980s to win grocery-store shelf space.
- Pit pitchmen against each other. Want the best creative from your advertising? Put two ad firms in a jar and shake. Anheuser-Busch, which entrusts its advertising to two dueling firms, believes competition drives more-creative work.
- Watch out for bad buzz. For every 23 customers who complain, count on about 10,000 you’ll never hear from. The vocal 23 are a leading indicator of a larger problem. When Doubletree botched two businessmen’s reservation, the guys crafted a scathing 17-page PowerPoint presentation about the hotel that landed in USA Today.