Thursday, May 8, 2008

Blog Summary

My Two Cents.....
I have been blogging about buzz marketing for months now; looking at the freshest, most recent articles on the internet. We have gone over a wide variety of buzz marketing techniques and procedures, as well as pros and cons, generic ways to spread buzz, and looked at PR, advertising, and marketing , all in an effort- a never ending search, to discover what is at the heart of word of mouth marketing.

One of the most common "tried and true" methods of buzz marketing that seems to always pop up, is the basic giveaways, or free samples. Grocery stores started doing this way back in the day, in order to promote brands and increase sales. As an unseen added benefit, people took back with them more than just the 2.99 chicken poppers. They took home a little fun experience, and started slowly spreading the word to family, friends, and co-workers.

We also have figured out that buzz, or word of mouth marketing starts with the product. Many companies don't even put effort into the "buzz" marketing that large corporations try to jumpstart. Take Google, or facebook for instance. These online companies thrived on no advertising at all. To paraphrase Seth Godin, "They are products worth talking about". A truly great product will generate word of mouth naturally, and spread organically. This is something every brand strives to do- but lets face it, not every product is "worth talking about". That leaves us marketing guys with the task to buzz market everyday commodities like, tissue paper, glue, and socks. That is where this blog comes in. We have focused on using money to create buzz, through ads, giveaways, samples, etc. We have seen that sometimes this works, while other times, fails miserably. Lets take a look at what works and what doesn't.

Buzz Marketing that works.

A little while ago a did a blog post about Welsh's grape juice and their lickable ads. The ads consisted of a tear off film which dissolves into your mouth. It is completely sanitary and quite innovative as well. Now, while its hard to measure how effective this ad was , seeing the enormous amount of blog posts, online buzz, and news stations (PR) covering this ad. "Oh thats cool! Is it safe? Yuck! Yum!" A wide variety of opinions were present, but it didn't matter, because Welsh s Grape Juice already accomplished what they had intended to do, even before the ad appeared in a magazine. PR was prevalent all over the country, and it was all free advertising before they even advertised it. In my opinion, this is an example of buzz marketing that works. Because of the innovative and radical advertising approach, the ad created curiosity and forehead smacking responses. All in all though, it was just a free sample! Which goes along with the old Bernice Fitz-Gibbon qoute, "Creativity often consists of merely turning up what us already there." They turned up what was already there, but in a new, exiting way. They turned heads and it worked.

Another example of paid buzz marketing that works is the Coors Light post that I just recently talked about. This example shows how buzz can be generated through an almost infinate amount of ways. In other words, it doesn't start and end with free samples. Small product innovations done purley for marketing purposes- and I will list of the 4 p's of Price, Product, Promotions, and Placement. Tweaking any part of the marketing mix will get people talking- especially among those familiar with your product. As dumb as it is, making a minuscule dent in a can that "creates better beer flow", had drinkers from colleges to retirement homes, buzzing and buying the Coors Light because of the NEW innovation. Promotions can create buzz too, like the Hanes "Wedgie Free" campaign, discussed in a March 7th post. I did not cover price alterations much in this blog, but you can imagine how Sales in malls do wonders in buzz marketing. I don't know how many times my Mother used to always seem to know when Sears was having a sale. It seemed as though there were microchips installed in my Grandmother, Mother, and Aunt's brains that malls could activate whenever a sale was going on. And then, everyone becomes aware of it, and everyone tells there friends. Placement, or channels of distribution, doesn't seem as though it creates buzz but ponder this; A grand opening. Think about brands or products that wish to expand. If widgets were going to be distributed to new cities, buzz and grand openings, and PR would occur, with just a little help from the marketing department.

The trend with buzz marketing is buzz marketing itself. This little blurb is taken from a Business week article that I discussed months ago. "Word of mouth marketing will hit $1.3 billion this year, 33% up from 2006. In fact, the spending is estimated to triple that figure by 2011. The growth of the internet plays a big role in this spending. Many marketers are using word of mouth (WOM) to generate buzz about websites and are considering WOM to be a separate entity from advertising and public relations." Like I said, WOM has always been around, its just now being recognized and its marketing potential is being realized. For marketers that get a bit too overzealous with it however, it can fail. It is easy to get too excited over word of mouth and approach it incorrectly. It really is a delicate art to master. The next part of this post is going to be dedicated to Buzz Marketing that Fails.

Buzz Marketing that fails.

One, underlying thing that always seems to annoy me is something I call the copycat marketing. And it never seems to work. Don't get me wrong, Picasso once said, bad artists copy. Good artists steal. This applies to marketing as well. We all know there really isn't any new ideas anymore, so we are left with the creative approach to old ideas. Here is my example. An influx of companies have tried to ride the internet bandwagon with buzz websites to accompany their advertising. They often feature games, downloads, and the ever so old, uploading your face into some sort of scene. This has worked in the past but has generated very little consumer interest since then, due to the over saturation of the market.I am sorry but consumers aren't stupid! And they are so inundated with media and ads that something that doesn't strike them as new fails! Things that go along with this are blogs, facebook brand groups or pages, and lame youtube videos. We have to keep moving forward, not keep our feet in the cement.

With this being said, I hope you have received some good insights and education from this blog. Remember, WOM has no boundries, can occur organically or with some creative approaches, occur from media plans. I especially like where WOM is going now with the unconventional advertising approaches. Outdoor advertising like reverse graffitti art, and stairway ads, make people stop and think. And if they are creative enough, will spur word of mouth. I am going to leave you with a series of great outdoor "ads" that I believe have accomplished WOM and this is the future of buzz marketing! Farewell!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Coors Light is ridiculous

In a continuous effort to sell more beer and create buzz, Coors Light has come out with yet another product innovation.  Tweaks in products or packaging is a widely used marketing tactic to increase performance in a lagging brand.  A simple enhancement in size, and a "New and improved" sticker, can fool millions of consumers into buying more product.  Coors light does this almost every quarter.  First it was the wide mouth opening, then there was the "it turns blue" temperature activated bottles that indicates the perfect temperate for beer consumption, then the "frost brewed lining", and now the revolutionary vented opening that supposedly makes the beer come out better, if there even is such a thing.  Here is a link to the PR article.   I tried to search for a picture of the "vent" that improves beer drinking but nothing could be found.  If you get a chance, check out the can, you will laugh once you see the vent- it is a small dent in the top of the can, about the size of a pencil tip!
You have to give the marketers credit for inventing these bogus ideas because Coors Light is the top selling beer in America. But honestly, anyone who buys the "vent" idea has to be lacking in brain cells.  But the innovation, if thats what you want to call it, has increased buzz among beer drinkers!  The ads on TV are pretty corny and funny as well.  Coors is also planning a national venting day , to coincide with tax day.  This Coors Light example hopefully can provide insight to marketers everywhere looking for ways to create some product buzz.  An alteration or innovation can really stir things up in the consumer world. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Five T's - How to generate word of mouth

I stumbled upon an interesting article while scrounging the web for buzz material.  Andy Sernovitz, author of Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, has come up with a five step plan on how to generate word of mouth.  These steps consist of, talkers, topics, tools, taking part, and tracking.  So you're a company wanting some buzz? Check this out.
Talkers:  Figure out who the talkers are in your target market.  Who likes to "spread the word"?  Maybe its doctors, skateboarders, housewives, or bloggers.  Some people like to tell their friends, some don't.
Topics:  Give people a reason to talk about you.  Maybe you hold a sale, a promotion, give out free samples, or alter your product a bit with a new package, new flavor, or new feature.
Tools:  Do everything you can to help spread the message faster.  Examples are including stickers and postcards in a box when you ship a package.  Go on blogs and post things online.  Take part in guerrilla marketing.  Hand out samples.
Taking Part:  Fuel the conversation!  Make sure people keep talking about you by interacting with them.  Again, post on their blogs, send them emails, and send them thank you notes.  
Tracking:  Word of mouth is the voice of the consumer.  You can't get anything better than that.  Track what people are saying about your product and learn from it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friends, Family, Most Influential in Brand Purchases

A new study by ZenithOptimedia's Touchpoints ROI Tracker, a comprehensive project comprising over 300,000 interviews across 34 countries and covering more than 4,000 brands in 126 product and service categories, revealed that word of mouth, or recommendations from family and friends, are most influential on brand purchases with an average score of 84 out of 100. TV and internet search came 2nd, followed by print, outdoor, radio, newspaper, and internet banner ads. Word of mouth is so powerful but making it scalable, or accessible to marketers is a daunting task. It is extremely difficult to get people talking positively about a product that isn't superior by marketing efforts alone. It is also something that the marketers have little control over. Bruce Goerlich, ZenithOptimedia's president of strategic resources, North America says it best, "Word of mouth is incredibly powerful, but we as an industry are not doing as good a job as we could do in generating it,".

This is some obvious stuff right here. Who do you trust more when it comes to products, friends and family, or the cagey and wily marketing executives of a large corporation? The first thing I thought of when I saw this new data on word of mouth was how word of mouth can be involved in almost every stage of the consumer buying process. If you look at the consumer buying process it breaks up into 5 stages.

Need identification- your next door neighbor shows off his new grill, immediately you want one.
Information search- you need a car and you ask your brother in law, a mechanic, for information regarding automobiles.
Evaluation of alternatives- you want a cellphone and have narrowed it down to two models, Samsung, and LG. Your mother has one model, your brother the other. You proceed to ask them what the positives and negatives of their phones are.
Purchase- you make the purchased based on what your friends recommended.
Post purchase evaluation- you have a poor experience with a product, and you tell YOUR friends never to buy it.

This kind of stuff goes on everyday. I personally pay little attention to ads and utilize my friends for reliable information when it comes to purchases. Don't you?

Monday, April 7, 2008

The $100 Million Dollar Idea

Kraft believes they have a product that will surpass the $100 million mark in sales "within the next few years."Rick Searer, executive vice president and president of Kraft, told analysts last month that the product would sell itself. The product is Bagel-fuls. And the concept is frozen bagel sticks, filled with Philadelphia cream cheese. To launch the product, an integrated marketing campaign will start on April 9 when Joy Behar, co-host of ABC's The View, gives out free Bagel-fuls in New York's Times Square. Kraft is taking Bagel-fuls on a 20-plus city sampling tour this summer, which will be supported by radio promotions. Cities on the tour include Dallas, Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago and Orlando, Fla. "We're focusing heavily on sampling because we believe Bagel-fuls are so different from anything in the market," said Chitra Ebenezer, marketing director for the new Bagel-fuls brand. Kraft also is targeting blogs and female-oriented online communities to promote Bagel-fuls. "The product lends itself to word-of-mouth messaging," said Ebenezer. "Once you try it, you want others to try it."

Kraft is also planning an advertising campaign set to debut on the end of this month.

Food products always seem like a risky endeavor to me. Maybe its because the restaurant industry has a 60% failure rate. I have seen products like this come and go. There always seems to be a "big idea"- check out batter blaster, the spray on pancake- but most seem to fail. This bagel idea, however, is a bit more conservative in comparison and I think that it will generate some sales. I don't think there is that ick factor with the cream cheese being already inside. People who are on the go, and especially kids, will enjoy this product. As far as Ebenezer's prediction that this product will generate word of mouth, only time will tell. I personally will update this blogpost if I see chatter on the web about it once it debuts.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

TV sitcom uses fake news to promote show

A New York Times article shows that with a little creativity in your campaign, word of mouth can be generated.

To promote its new T.V. series "Back to You," Fox Broadcasting sent fake news vans out into the streets of Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. Staffed with blazer-clad actors who resembled newscasters and passed out promotional materials to curious on-lookers, the vans were emblazoned with the letters "WURG," the call letters for the fictitious "Back to You" news station.

Aside from the efforts on the street, Fox also created a microsite for the show, at, where users can upload photos of themselves to create an image that shows them seated at the anchor desk between the show's stars, Patricia Heaton and Kelsey Grammer. The images can be forwarded to friends via email, giving the message viral potential.

Fox also posted an uncensored clip of the premier episode on YouTube, where prospective fans can check it out -- and potentially pass it along to their friends.

Kind of corny, but local news is inherently corny so i guess its ok! I have not really heard of the show but having an epi on youtube is a great idea. The whole idea of making a website to support a campaign is starting to really get worn out. I feel like 9 times out of 10 the website's main feature is to upload a picture of yourself that places you among the brand in some way. Think of a new concept for a viral website then maybe ill visit. Other than that its an interesting campaign.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Dr. Pepper is doing what?!

In an effort to give Dr.Pepper a new image the company is kicking the Guns n' Roses into gear by offering everyone a free soda. The official press release and blog state that Dr. Pepper is encouraging lead singer, Axle Rose, to release his 17-year-in-the-making belabored masterpiece, Chinese Democracy, in 2008. You can see where Dr. Pepper is going with this by reading the quote below.
"It took a little patience to perfect Dr Pepper’s special mix of 23 ingredients, which our fans have come to know and love,” said Jaxie Alt, director of marketing for Dr Pepper. “So we completely understand and empathize with Axl's quest for perfection – for something more than the average album. We know once it's released, people will refer to it as "Dr Pepper for the ears" because it will be such a refreshing blend of rich, bold sounds - an instant classic.”

I understand the stunt, and it works well in this situation. If anything, Dr.Pepper got a whole lot of free press coverage this month. And people are talking about it. One blogger responded to a post about the giveaway by saying "I am going to buy some Dr. Pepper right now!" All this blogging about it actually makes me thirsty for some too... Months from now if the album actually does get released, it will be interesting to see how Dr. Pepper will go about giving away a free can of soda to everyone in America. We are talking big numbers here. 300M people in the States / $.25 per can of soda= 25 million bucks.