When you’re happy with a product you just bought or a service you received you tell everybody. This is exactly the principle behind buzz marketing or viral marketing. Give your customers a quality product or service and they will tell their friends, doing your marketing for free.
Ambassadors of Good Will
Buzz marketing is in fact any strategy that encourages people to convey a marketing message to others, increasing its exposure and impact. Buzz marketing relates to both the realization of the marketing technique itself and to the ‘good will’ of customers to share their buying experience with family and friends.
Buzz marketing has proven extremely effective because happy customers that consume and use your product or service empower your marketing message personally, effectively becoming your best ambassadors. The reason behind this behavior is cognitive dissonance – on the one hand, it drives people to justify their purchasing choice and reinforce their feelings by persuading others to buy a specific product, and on the other it fuels their natural impulse to share their experience.
Beyond the fact that viral marketing costs virtually nothing, another important advantage over other marketing tools is its reliability. When close friends recommend an amazing product to you or share their excellent service experience, it is natural to assume that you’ll go and buy or try the product right away. Why? Because you believe in and trust your friends and know that, contrary to professional marketing people, they do not want you to waste your money on products for the sake of generating profits for others.
A Virus in the Good Sense of the Word
Just like a virus spreads, viral marketing leverages the hidden potential of conveying a marketing message to thousands of people. Rumors about an excellent product are not only transmitted like a virus but also empower the buying experience of happy customers and permeate as a positive memory of your product. This memory will cause customers to recommend your product over and over again. Thus, in a very natural fashion, you gain a community of fans that began with a single happy customer and spread to dozens or even hundreds of people who want to buy what you have to sell.
Think for a moment about products that generated a powerful marketing buzz in fields like health, technology, fashion, entertainment, the environment, and more. Most probably, this is how you started using Google, Facebook, Twitter or Apple’s products; or how you decided to read a good book, watch a TV series or movie; how you were introduced to a new music style, ate at a new restaurant, or went on a vacation to a cabin resort your friends recommended. A positive buzz is one of the main purposes of viral marketing, public relations and Internet advertising.
The virus effect is also ideal if you want to leverage a growing trend and reliably (with an emphasis on ‘reliably’) associate new products to current events. This method involves targeting a trend or media event, and instead of marketing your product directly you promote it indirectly by mentioning it ‘in passing’. For example, you can upload a funny/cool/provocative video clip or presentation to YouTube that relates to a current event, interweaving in it your marketing message. People tend to share with their friends funny and/or interesting content they saw/heard, and this is in fact the basis for natural/viral marketing that will benefit your marketing interests. Moreover, this tactic increases the trust customers will develop towards the product, just as they tend to give more credibility to a newspaper article than to an ad, even if the article came from a PR agency.
How Do You Generate Marketing Buzz?
A Nielsen survey of 50,000 users in 50 countries showed that approximately 79% believe more in the opinion of consumers like them than in commercial marketing campaigns, with this trend increasing year over year.
To apply an effective viral marketing strategy that yields optimum benefits, at least some of the following should be in your mix:
- Make sure you excel in your field of expertise and create true differentiators for your product/services
- Develop unique products in limited versions; people like to boast about having something special
- ‘Free’ is the most powerful word in the viral marketing dictionary; give products or services for free to attract the attention of existing and potential customers; they will pay you money for the next product they buy
- Use media that will enable your customers to copy or download free products and pass them on easily
- Use an infrastructure that will allow you to increase the scope of your operations easily
- Leverage natural behaviors that drive people, like the need to be popular, loved, trendy, make money, etc.
- Include in your marketing message a personal reference to existing and potential customers (a photo, their name) and emphasize what they can gain by conveying the message (you can, for example, make a contribution in their name or commit to promote their social agenda, etc.)
- Leverage social media; after all, each one of us has at least 8-12 friends in one social network or other
- Use the resources of others such as partner networks, advertising, links in other Internet sites, articles in blogs, and more
Above all, maintain the value of your brand and be loyal to your business goals, making sure there is a demand for your products/services and that they provide a benefit and added value to the target audience.