It’s a HOPE business, our CEO bellowed in my direction. You HOPE someone sees your ad, you HOPE they call you and then you HOPE they buy something.
Cocky New Jersey Italian that I was (or am, I should say), I was now REALLY afraid to give my presentation. I was about to wax eloquent on the virtues of why our company should start advertising. I was a 28 year old junior executive in a billion dollar conglomerate about to take on the CEO at changing one of his long-held principles: NO ADVERTISING!Well I lost that battle but I learned something more valuable. Traditional advertising rarely works. In fact I learned that the more NON-traditional the advertising or marketing the more dramatic the response.That’s why whenever I hear about some new type of buzz-marketing I get excited. Whether its Seth Godin’s Purple Cow, the future that Tom Peter’s is Re-Imagining, or Jay Abraham’s latest guru strategy, I get goose bumps thinking about ways to make customers come to us rather than chasing after them.But I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the article in this month’s Fast Company magazine. Now if you’re not a subscriber to Fast Company I recommend that you sign up for it ASAP because it is the coolest business publication on the planet. Check it out at www.fastcompany.com.The article was all about buzz marketing. But this was buzz marketing like I’d never seen. A while back I wrote an article on this very subject that was picked up by a magazine and in that article I talk about how to create viral marketing buzzI discuss how today’s customers are suffering from information overload. They see and hear so many advertising and marketing messages that it becomes difficult to filter out what is valuable and credible through all the clutter and noise. As a result, customers are turning to their friends and associates for purchasing advice more that ever.Well the article in Fast Company took buzz marketing to the limit. The author Linda Tischler talked about a consulting firm that companies actually HIRE to create buzz for their products or services – unbelievable!The company is called; BzzAgents and they literally sell Buzz. When a client signs on apparently BzzAgents searches its database for “agents” that match the demographic and psychological profile of their target customers. They then contract with these 300 plus agents to spread the gospel, as it were. Agents receive information about the client as well as free samples. They have very specific goals in terms of creating positive propaganda and get this: they are NOT paid a dime! They do it because they actually believe in the product or service they are representing.Now don’t think you’re going to rush out and hire BzzAgents. First off BzzAgents rejects 80% of the companies that try to hire them. Their founder says, “We can help a product that has value but we just can’t help a product that’s schlock” (his words folks, not mine). On top of that the average 12 week campaign typically deploys over 1000 agents and carries a hefty price tag close to $100,000. Recent clients include Anheuser Bush, Monster.com and Land’s End. (Look for BzzAgents founder, David Balter as an upcoming guest on the Small Business Hour in the near future.)Worry not. You don’t need to sell you firstborn to create buzz. You can do it on your own in just a few months with a well thought out buzz marketing campaign and a few well chosen buzz agents.How, you ask? It’s quite simple. First you have to have something good to say – a unique story. Then simply start with a handful of loyalists. Give them something special – something that is valuable, in demand and limited in supply. Finally work at educating and inspiring them. Turn them into evangelists. Not for the sake of your product but for their own edification. Then get out of the way.Bzzzzzzzz!What’s that sound? Shhhh listen.It’s somebody talking about your company, product or service.I hope that this “Business Update” has been helpful in assisting you to improve the performance of your organization. For more information on how the Small Business Advisory Network assists companies in improving their performance, please feel free to contact us at 310-320-8190 or email firstname.lastname@example.orgMark Deo