Marketers’ growing interest in word-of-mouth, buzz, and viral marketing have led to a number of new concepts and ideas. Here are three sets of such insights.
A. The 5 Myths of Buzz
Research conducted by Renee Dye, a strategy expert with McKinsey, suggests that buzz evolves according to basic principles. Dye contends that companies seeking to take advantage of buzz must first overcome five misconceptions about marketing contagion. Here are “The 5 Myths of Buzz”:
1. Only outrageous or edgy products are buzz-worthy. The
most unlikely products, like prescription drugs, can generate tremendous buzz.
2. Buzz just happens. Buzz is increasingly the result of shrewd marketing tactics in which companies seed a vanguard group, ration supplies, use celebrities to generate buzz, leverage the power of lists, and initiate grassroots marketing.
3. The best buzz-starters are your best customers. Often, a counterculture has a greater ability to start buzz.
4. To profit from buzz, you must act first and fast. Copycat companies can reap substantial profits if they know when to jump in—and when not to.
5. The media and advertising are needed to create buzz. When used either too early or too much, the media and advertising can squelch buzz before it ignites.
B. Word-of-Mouth Marketing Tips
Marketing author Michael Cafferky’s Word-of-Mouth Marketing Tips Web site offers many suggestions on how to build a network of referral sources. Here are five:
1. Involve your customers in the process of making or delivering your product or service.
2.Solicit testimonials from your customers: Use a response form that asks for feedback—and permission to quote it.
3. Tell true stories to your customers: Stories are the central vehicle for spreading reputations because they communicate on an emotional level.
4. Educate your best customers: You can pick any topic that is relevant to your best customers and have them become the source of credible, up-to-date information on that topic.
5. Offer fast complaint handling: A speedy response is vital to preventing negative word of mouth from starting, because negative feelings about a product or service may linger for years.
C. The Law of the Few, Stickiness, and the Power of Context
Malcolm Gladwell claims that three factors work to ignite public interest in an idea. He calls the first “The Law of the Few.” Three types of people help spread an idea like an epidemic. First are Mavens, people who are knowledgeable about big and small things. Second are Connectors, people who know and communicate with a great number of other people. Third are Salesmen, those who possess great natural persuasive power.
Any idea that catches the interest of Mavens, Connectors, and Salesmen is likely to be broadcast far and wide. A second factor is “stickiness.” An idea must be expressed so that it motivates people to act. Otherwise “The Law of the Few” will not lead to a self-sustaining epidemic. A third factor, the Power of Context, will control whether those spreading an idea are able to organize groups and communities around it.