Back in the day before there was ever any internet connection, television, radio or even newspapers the only way to get your business known to potential customers was by word of mouth. This meant that your current customers had to recommend your business to other people in order for the latter to come to you.

This was buzz marketing in its most basic form and without it a business wouldn’t be able to survive then much as it wouldn’t be able to survive now. If you pooh-pooh this as nothing more than something random it isn’t. There’s a science involved in getting people to talk about your brand or business and it is something you want to know if you want to remain competitive in today’s market.

What is Buzz Marketing?

In a nutshell buzz marketing is a viral marketing technique that looks spontaneous and unique to the eyes of the consumer rather than being something that is calculated and choreographed. The goal is to not only make consumers become aware of the brand’s existence but also make them talk about the brand within themselves and with others.

Buzz marketing

It’s all about making sure that the eyes of the consumer and the media are on you. How do you do that? By making sure that your brand is entertaining, fascinating and newsworthy. If you can make people talk about your brand or company the more free advertising you’re going to get out of it which means you get more out of the advertising bucks you put in.

How do you get people to talk about you?

Of course, using buzz marketing is all for naught if you can’t get people to talk about you. You need to have that something that will start the ball rolling or to start the buzz going, no pun intended. In order to do that, renowned author Mark Hughes in his book Buzz Marketing, talks about the six buttons that you have to push in order to activate the buzz in buzz marketing.

By pressing these buttons, you will give people something to talk about in order to generate the buzz that you need for your brand. The six buttons are the type of conversation starters that will get people talking more than anything else in this world.

1) Talking about something that should not be spoken about.

This is part of human nature. The more taboo it is the more it gets talked about, even if it is behind closed doors. Anything that has to do with sex, sexuality, bathroom humor or even morbid things such as death are considered taboo yet because of it, it is a topic most hard to not talk about.

 Case study: The Sopranos. For a new season of its hit series “The Sopranos” HBO pulled out all the stops and put a body in almost every taxi cab in New York City – or at least the arm of one. It was creative and created a buzz as people posted it all over the internet. Marketing tactics such as this helped make “The Sopranos” one of the best and highly watched television series on cable.

the sopranos buzz marketing

The Sopranos  2) Something that’s highly unusual.

Let’s face it; the more unusual something is the more chances it is going to get talked about. That’s because people tend to remember and talk about unusual things.

Case Study: Oscar Mayer’s Weinermobile. Think 100-foot long hotdog on wheels, or something thereabouts. This is as unusual as you’re ever going to get. Imagine seeing a big hot dog driving down the street and you’re going to be talking about it too. It’s one of the most successful ad campaigns by Oscar Meyer and always gets an audience wherever it goes simply by generating a buzz due to its presence.

3) Something that’s totally outrageous.

Renaming a town is always an outrageous idea so how about changing a town’s name to Google, much like what Topeka, Kansas did back in 2010. It was a ploy to get Google to choose them as part of their bid to host Google’s broadband experiment. This generated a lot of buzz especially after Google reciprocated and changed their name to Topeka. Unfortunately, Kansas City, Kansas won but it still gave Topeka a lot of air time because of it.

Case Study: Cartoon Network Boston Bomb Scare. In an effort to generate buzz for its new cartoon series “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” Cartoon Network left backpack sized devices with blinking LED lights and wires in many areas around the Boston Area. The cartoon designs were meant to drive people’s curiosity but unfortunately the opposite happened. A lot of people saw it reported it as a bomb which brought out the police and the FBI.

Unfortunately, the producers and PR people did not explain their side even after reports came out on television that the backpacks they left were treated as being terrorist explosive devices. Cartoon Network and their mother company Turner Broadcasting got the buzz they wanted but it wasn’t the positive one they had hoped for.

 Cartoon Network Boston Bomb Scare

Cartoon Network Boston Bomb Scare  4) If it’s funny or hilarious it’s something to talk about.

Funny stories gets told and retold over and over again. So are funny ads and the like. People like to laugh and if you can make people laugh you’re assured that they will talk about their experience with you.

5) Something you don’t see every day.

If it’s a remarkable sight then rest assured it will be remembered and talked about. The more rare it is the better since sightings are often enough to spark curiosity which gets people’s tongues wagging.

Case Study: The Goodyear Blimp. First began in 1927 with Goodyear’s first airship, the blimp with its ubiquitous logo has been around the world as part of Goodyear’s Global “Aerial Ambassadors.” It travels to special events and sports venues around the United States and due to the exposure it is estimated that over 60-million see the blimp and its logo every year.

 Goodyear Blimp

Good Year Blimp  6) If it’s a secret then it’s got to be told.

Secrets can’t be kept at least when it comes to marketing. The more secret it is the more people want to find out. When they get any information about that secret they are sure to share it as an insider would.

Delivering Your Message On A Budget

When it comes to generating the buzz there are a couple of channels you can use. You don’t have to use all of them but in order to effectively generate the buzz you want and need a multi-channel approach is always advisable and in some cases highly recommended.

If you have a big budget you can certainly leave no stone unturned and hit all the channels that you possibly can. But for those with minimal to no budget whatsoever, using two or three is good enough to start the ball rolling.

Traditional channels

  • Yellow pages
  • Television
  • Radio
  • Newsprint

 Social Media Channels

Some more resources on using social media tips on properly delivering your message. 

  1.   5 Tips To Effectively Use Social Media
  2.   How To Use Social Media B2B Strategies
  3.   5 Ways To Use Video To Improve Your Social Media Marketing
  4.   The Anatomy of A Viral Marketing Product Launch
  5.   Why B2B Businesses Must Invest in the Tremendous Potential of Social Media
  6.   How to Conduct a Social Media Competitive Analysis
  7.   500+ social media networks – AND they’re ALL YOURS

While the volume of your buzz generation is important the dispersion of it is much more so. It doesn’t really matter if you get a lot of buzz if it only stays within one or two of your target groups. Basically, the more groups talk about your brand the better is it for your buzz marketing campaign.

You may also check Distilled’s SEO Guide to Creating Viral Linkbait and Infographics.

It’s not just the message; it’s the content as well and it has to be real

Even if you have a message it won’t be really effective if there is no content behind that message. What this means is you need to give the appropriate content to your targeted prospects – content that matter to them. You can’t simply be making things up or pretending x is y when it is actually z. In today’s world “faking it” simply does not work and doing so will result in a loss of distrust. No one takes anything at face value anymore so you need to build your credibility and gain people’s trust so they can and will create that buzz for you.

The right message at the right time with the right message can create a viral sensation.

And if you’re caught “faking it” you will receive a lot of backlash that can prove fatal to your brand. Not only will you lose face but you will also lose the trust of your prospects which can result in a lot of negative publicity around your brand.

There is still a lot of “faking it” online and people are still getting popular because of it.

In the end it’s all about pushing the right buttons while being true to your message.

When all is said and done, buzz marketing is being yourself in front of your prospects while at the same time pressing the right conversation starters to get the ball rolling. It’s not simply a matter of pressing the right buttons; it’s pressing the right button at the right time for the right reasons.

The Cartoon Network debacle shows how pushing the right buttons at the wrong time without the right message and content behind it can result in negative instead of positive outcomes. If you want to create the right kind of buzz you need to create the right kind of message.

BUT, should that be the case if all you want is for your brand to be known? Do you think “faking it” still has merit when it comes to creating buzz for your brand or should everything be on the straight and narrow?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

+Mark Acsay III is an Inbound Marketing Strategist based from the Philippines and the author Webby Thoughts blog. He loves agile content marketing fueled with creativity and efficiency. You may connect with his twitter at @markacsay