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Tuesday, February 5, 2008
The Buzz on Generating Buzz
The Buzz on Generating Buzz

Market your products and services through word of mouth. Elbert Or gives an overview.
EYP recommends helpful establishments.

Word of mouth, traditionally defined as the transmission of information from person to person, has been around for as long as people have been communicating with each other. However, it is only in recent years that marketers and advertisers have made concerted efforts to use this method to promote products and services.

Not Jaded

Word-of-mouth marketing is the term they use to describe a company’s efforts to generate "buzz"--motivated discussion, personal recommendations and referrals about their products or services. "The big advantage of word of mouth is that your product is being promoted by a third party," explains Budjette Tan, creative director at Harrison Communications.

With TV, radio and print media oversaturated with ads, people are more inclined to believe information they hear from other people who have tried the product. "[Word of mouth] is not a [paid] ad. It’s being promoted by a friend, a relative, someone trusted, so there’s a better chance that people will go try it out," Tan explains. A trusted friend’s recommendation comes across as more honest and sincere, as opposed to a paid ad’s calculated message or flashy art direction.

Spreading It

Buzz can be generated from personal contact and interaction between people, where people talk about or recommend to each other products or services they’ve tried, but there are also other ways by which word of mouth can spread.
Word of mouth can also spread via SMS or text. In marketing terms, this is sometimes referred to as M2M or mobile-to-mobile media. Compared to face to face interaction, M2M messages spread much more rapidly and exponentially--just ask service providers like Globe, Smart, and Sun. And then of course, there is also online media, which includes email, blogs, and message boards.

How do you create word of mouth buzz? There are essentially three factors to consider:

1. Choosing the right target.

In the book The Tipping Point, author Malcolm Gladwell talks about how word of mouth can spread most effectively through the use of what he calls mavens. "Mavens are the experts in their field and when they talk about something people listen," says Tan. "So it would be best to find the maven in the field of your business and hope to get a good review from him. Invite a food expert or techie writer to your shop, try out your product and hope they like it enough to write or talk about it."
To get people talking, Tan also suggests sampling "in the same way Starbucks gives free coffee on the first day of a newly opened branch, or Level-Up gave away CDs of their video games. People get to try it and they can tell their friends about it."
He adds, "Following traditional PR methods, I think it still works to let select people sample your products--these people should be trusted and respected people in their fields. For example, if you’ve got a new comic book, send a copy to reviewers or bloggers who regularly talk about comic books. If they like it, then they’ll blog about it, mention it in forums, and that gets your buzz started."

2. Choosing the right channels.

Determining whether to use traditional channels or viral channels to communicate your message can make a key difference in the effectiveness of word-of-mouth marketing. Traditional refers to word of mouth that occurs through face to face interactions, while viral refers to the passing on of messages using new channels like SMS and the Internet.

Traditional channels have the advantage of unparalleled intimacy and increased believability because people trust those they are familiar with, such as family and friends. However, it has its limitations. "How do you control it? How do you make it spread fast enough?" says Tan. Viral channels on the other hand, fuel a much faster distribution of message because the technology involved allows people to connect with countless others simultaneously without having to physically encounter them.
On the Internet, Tan notes that there are numerous ways one can create buzz about a product or service. In addition to establishing presence via websites and email, there are also social networking sites like Friendster (www.friendster.com), which is very popular especially in the Philippines, and emerging new services like YouTube (www.youtube.com) which allow numerous users to link to one’s uploaded video clips.

3. Choosing the right message.

The content of the message that consumers share with others is integral to word-of-mouth marketing. Its effectiveness lies in two key characteristics--the message is easy to remember and consequently, easy to pass on, and it meets the emotional or rational needs of the consumer. Companies should therefore think about the message they are trying to get across. Is it simple to convey and easy to digest? Does it resonate with people’s needs? A complex or irrelevant message will be difficult to spread even if one uses all the proper channels and taps all the correct people.

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