What is “buzz”? Buzz is a marketing strategy used by companies to spread the word about their products. Traditionally, buzz was started as local gossip that would slowly spread throughout a town, city or community. Nowadays, the internet (and social media platforms) have made buzz a much faster process, reaching a much larger audience. Buzz comes in many different forms; viral videos, social media, trending topics, popular advertisements, news stories, etc. But the one common factor in all of these is that people are talking about them. Buzz relies on emotion, controversy, suspense, or any other factor that evokes a strong reaction from audiences. So how can sales messaging use buzz to its advantage?
The best sales messaging has different levels tailored to each step in the sales process, or since it’s about the buyer, the buyer’s process. Not surprisingly, great buzz will have different levels as well. Creating buzz will allow you to kickstart a healthy relationship with your prospective customers.
An Introduction to the Party Metaphor
My friend recently invited me to a get-together where I knew I would know very few people. His “value proposition” in getting me to go was that 1.) I would meet new people and 2.) the party would have...a life-size version of Jenga! My friend said the host had a reputation for being a generally kind, outgoing person. This party had all the ingredients of a great sales message worthy of buzz: the host had a good reputation, which led to his guests to not only talk about the party but invite their own friends, and it had a great “product differentiating factor.” Life-size Jenga. In sales terms, it was clear that their “one specific offering” was that guests would have fun.
The party metaphor is a real-life example of what a successful buzz campaign would look like. In terms of the buyer’s process, think of “before the party” as the awareness stage, “during the party” as the consideration phase, and “after the party” as the decision-making phase. Think of the party host as the “company” and his party as the “product demo”.
Before the party (awareness stage)
Who are the “life of the party” guests you’d really want at your party? The ones who others may rely on in deciding whether or not they’ll go? In the virtual world of social media, we call these people the “influencers”. (Powell, Guy; et. al, (2011). ROI of Social Media). Give the influencers access to, and a reason to, talk about your product (or in this metaphor, your party). Contact social thought leaders or popular blog writers in your industry. Give them a clear, black-and-white definition of your value proposition that will be easy for them to understand. In my situation, both my friend and the host served as my influencers. They knew how to appeal to my WIFM (what’s-in-it-for-me). The host “advertised” himself in a great way; by being a genuinely kind and outgoing person. I trusted my friend’s judgement, who spoke highly of the host. So use buzz to build anticipation around the release of your product (we like to do this through product demos).
“Interpersonal communication has been shown to be more effective in influencing consumers’ purchasing decisions than advertising alone and the two combined have the greatest power.” - Caleb Seifert of “Winning the Super “Buzz” Bowl
During the party (consideration phase)
Once I was at the party, I immediately (and subconsciously) started evaluating what I liked and didn’t like about it. In social media terms, I was shifting from an “individual” to a “consumer” and entering the consideration phase. The consideration phase is answering the question, “why should I switch from what I’m currently using to use your product?” In this metaphor, it would be “why should I go to your party instead of stay home or go to a different party?” Well, this party had reached its target audience (me). Another success for its business strategy! I had no other plans that night...so why not go?
The first thing I saw when arriving was the massive Jenga set up in the front lawn. This showed follow-through and proof that the host delivered what he said he was going to deliver. He made a point to introduce himself and a few of his friends, which reinforced the positive reputation I had already expected. In sales terms, this could be considered building the customer relationship. Furthermore, the Jenga and the general atmosphere solidified the party’s “one specific offering” - which was to have fun!
After the party (decision-making phase)
As the night progressed and I met more people, equally as excited to play life-size Jenga, I had definitely become a “consumer”. By this, I mean I would attend future events by this host. In sales terms, I had developed brand loyalty. The party had met all expectations of the buzz created around it.
Now that I was a “consumer”, how would this host plan on keeping me as a loyal guest for the foreseeable future?
Enter the world of: follow-up. Not only did I receive a Facebook friend request from the host, but he posted in the Facebook event page that he was so happy and thankful to everyone who showed up. In sales terms, this could be considered good old fashioned, quality customer support. He took extra steps to show that this was an ongoing relationship that he planned on nurturing.
The evangelist (promoter phase)
So what is the ROI in this process? I am now part of the buzz. If and when he hosts another party, I will invite my friends (who already know how much fun I had at the first party) and I will definitely go. I will become his promoter.
And what if the host had posted a question in the Facebook event page, asking his guests if, and why, they had fun? This would be collecting data for his “net promoter score” (NPS). As author Fred Reichheld writes, “The primary purpose of the NPS methodology is to evaluate customer loyalty to a brand or company, not to evaluate their satisfaction with a particular product or transaction”. This would be the final step in completing the buyer’s process - turning it into a cycle. I would give the party a 9 or 10 rating on the net promoter scale (from 1-10). I’m sure the host would be thrilled by this - he knows I had fun at his party, and I will now market him for free! Give this guy a sales/marketing pat on the back.
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