Buzz marketing is the process of building buzz, hype and anticipation for a new product. This is an ideal form of marketing, because it takes the excitement and turns it up to fever pitch just in time for a launch. It is more important than sheer awareness because it provides the emotion that will trigger sales. This post explains he techniques used to create buzz.
Buzz marketing is not the lesser-known brother of Buzz Lightyear but rather an approach to marketing that utilizes the very best and most organic technique that can help you get eyes on your business or product.
Buzz marketing is a form of viral marketing. This means it is reliant on word of mouth and of the natural spread of ideas and conversation. ‘Buzz’ means excitement and interest. This is very hard to quantify, yet it is perhaps the most valuable asset that your business has in its arsenal for selling a product in big numbers.
Perhaps the best way to understand buzz marketing is to think of it in the context that we most often do think of it: in terms of films. When a new film is about to come out, you will always find that there is a large marketing campaign pushing it. Films cost millions or even billions of dollars to make and studios of course want to capitalize on that investment.
That in turn means that they want to ensure as many people know about it as possible and are excited about it. This creates ‘buzz’. But buzz and exposure are not one and the same thing. Sometimes, a film will have fantastic visibility and everyone will know about it… but no one will care.
Other times, the film is news. Websites write about it, you discuss it with your friends, people generally want to know as much as they can and they want to see it as soon as possible. This is the intangible element that will ultimately result in the success of that film – moreso than the sheer amount of money being thrown at it. So how do you create buzz?
Being weird is a term that has negative connotations, and most of us would much rather fit in in the vast majority of scenarios. No one wants to be the odd one out, and a lot of getting by at work or in a social situation is simply adhering to the social norms of that group (for the business buffs among you that's 'convergence'). While this is all good and well when working with the team though, when it comes to your wider business you want to be anything but different. Being the same as every other organization is one of the quickest ways to ensure that no one takes notice of you, and this makes marketing very hard. If you have a message to get across, or a product you're trying to promote, then being the black sheep can be very useful indeed. This of course means identifying your USP in terms of your product or service, but it also means thinking of the USP for your marketing strategy in itself.
The black sheep is an interesting analogy here, because if you were walking past a flock of sheep and one of them was black, that would automatically be the one you looked at and the one you commented on. If you were a marketer considering writing your message on the side of a sheep... that's the one you would no doubt pick.
It's similar in business, if you want to be noticed then you need to have a USP – a unique selling point - and you need to be different, otherwise you'll be lost among the competition. If you see a business consultant about your product or service, the first thing they will often say is 'what's your USP'? And seeing as the whole point of marketing is to get you noticed, it makes sense that you would apply the same logic.
So how can 'marketing' have a USP? Well of course it's simply by being different enough to warrant commenting and attention. Let's face it, most marketing strategies are really rather similar - they involve creating adverts and a brand, they involve posting on social media sites, and they involve running competitions, writing press releases or throwing launch parties to get media coverage.
But some marketing campaigns are different and they're much more interesting as a result. For instance, some companies will go to much more trouble to get that media coverage and will stage ambitious publicity stunts or flash dances in order to turn heads. If you have 'yet another launch party' then there's no guarantee that you'll end up in a magazine or newspaper this time. On the other hand though, if you unleash one thousand tiny bouncy balls into the street then this probably will get mentioned somewhere. And it will likely get people talking about your business too.
And the internet is the perfect place for this kind of 'out there' marketing too as people are so much more likely to share interesting articles with their friends and wider network giving any marketing strategy the potential to go viral much more quickly. This could mean filming an attention grabbing YouTube video, or it could mean going more ambitious than that by creating a unique game or interactive web page. If it's completely unique then people will share it, and particularly when so much of the web is very uniform and structured these days.
Consider the new Deadpool tease trailer for Deadpool 2. The first film was fantastic at buzz marketing and viral marketing, which helped it to become the massive hit it was on such a low budget. The second film is going with the same approach. A long time before this latest teaser was a long drawn-out advert that used the Superman theme tune and had no footage from the actual film. The newest one is called the ‘wet on wet’ teaser and is mainly a parody of a painting program. It’s completely unique and that has gotten people talking.
Likewise, just being different can be a marketing strategy in itself. Give your website a unique navigation system for instance, or a fun introduction, or some kind of free download even, and you'll find that it gets people talking about your business. Other companies might follow suit to keep up, and that's how innovation happens.
To stand out then you either need to be the first, the best, or very different. And from a marketing standpoint being different is a very attractive option. It's time to start using your imagination! This is a perfect form of buzz marketing. If you can get people to talk about the marketing campaign, then that will create more interest in the product. If the marketing is different, then the product likely is too.
If you're trying to make a success of social media and you are hoping to promote your brand through this method, then you will probably find yourself banging your head against the wall constantly trying to work out what makes a viral hit.
The problem is that you can spend months and thousands of dollars crafting the perfect campaign that's clever and witty and amazing and find that not one person likes or shares it. Meanwhile, someone films a video of a dog chasing some dear in a park and that explodes and becomes huge. What's that magic ingredient that makes people want to share something? And how can you use it to your advantage? Tapping into this psychology would surely be the holy grail of social media marketing, and would surely be the equivalent of the mythical equation that could allow day traders to trade confidently and always make a profit.
It's About Them
While there is no secret ingredient that we know about just yet, there is one element that you need to consider that often gets forgotten in the mix: and that's what sharing says about that person.
When you share something, this is essentially a form of communication and that means that it has to say something about you or express something that you're feeling or thinking. In order to share something generally with all of your contacts it has to reflect something about you that a) is an accurate depiction of an aspect of your personality, and b) will make you look good.
This is the biggest reason that humour is so popular. When you share a video that you think is funny, you are essentially saying 'this is the kind of thing I find funny'. Likewise, this also says 'this is my sense of humour, if you find this funny then you will probably find me funny too'. Of course the person who shares that link probably didn't make the article or video, but when they share it they are nevertheless taking ownership of it in another way.
This is also why highly opinionated articles and videos are often a hit: because they allow that person to express themselves in a way that doesn't require them to personally write an article or create a video. When they share that opinion piece they are saying 'this is how I feel too'.
An exception to this rule is when you share something to make a comment on someone else. This is what will often compel us to share something with a friend as opposed to sharing to our 'wall' or with our whole network of contacts. If there's a funny video about a forgetful person for instance, then we might share it with our forgetful friend as a way of saying 'you're forgetful'.
Again though, the point is that the urge to share comes from the communicative value of that link. So, the question you have to ask, is what does your image, video or article communicate?
From a marketing perspective, this also reminds us of the importance of being niche with the product and the marketing. That means knowing who the product is for and it means approaching that audience in particular.
In other words, if you create a video marketing your new product that is aimed directly at gym rats and makes many knowing winks to that audience, then it will likely get shared on forums, on social media etc. If you make something that is for everyone, then it will likely not be very interesting at all. Something that is for everyone is really for no one.
Another important tip is to drip feed information about a new product or service. This tends to work best when the product already has some demand for it. In other words, when people are already ravenous for information and will gobble up anything that is put out.
You can do this by releasing leaks of your information or even by releasing false rumors. This encourages people to talk about the product and speculate. And that uses something else that is a very important aspect of human behavior that you can use to your advantage: curiosity. People are naturally curious and they want to know more about things, even when they don’t seem particularly interesting! If you hold some information back, then it will help to build more anticipation and discussion.
Social media is also a very important and powerful tool for creating buzz and is in many ways perfect for all forms of viral marketing. Social media is ideal for buzz marketing because it allows you to utilize real-world networks of people. This means that if a post gets a lot of comments or likes, then it becomes more likely that other people will see it and then share it with their audience. This can end up spreading exponentially.
We’ve already seen how to create a sharable link. It’s also important to encourage sharing by running competitions, by including social sharing buttons etc. Another thing to consider is the role of social influence. That is to say that something instantly becomes more interesting and desirable if other people are interested in it.
And it’s not just anyone who can have a massive sway. The best way to get the maximum bang for your buck this way is to use influencer marketing. This means looking for the thought leaders in a community and appealing them to begin the discussion. These are the bloggers, the YouTubers, the speakers… the people with thousands of followers who hang off their other word.
If you can get them to talk about your product, it instantly becomes more interesting and they will lead the discourse. Identify these thought leaders and provide them with free samples, incentives and whatever else to start the buzz going!
Something to keep in mind during buzz marketing is the AIDA principle. This stands for
These are the emotions that you need to take your audience through as you promote your new product, service or news. First, you need to make them aware of whatever it is you’re trying to drum up interest for. This will very often start with a mention of something that is forthcoming.
So for instance, if you’re releasing a new product, you may start by simply mentioning that you have ‘something interesting in the pipeline’. This gets people aware of the concept and makes them more susceptible to new information. This is an example of drip feeding information.
You then build interest. You do this by drip feeding more information and remembering your product’s USP. You might release some articles on related topics and try to get them to spread. You might drop it into conversation or leak some details.
You then create desire. Now you start to allow the product to take shape in the audience’s mind. You describe it in terms that are more visceral, physical and desirable. Your new computer feels premium. It is speedy, smart, svelte, powerful… Finally, you present the option to buy and you trigger that action.