The above viral, buzz and word of mouth campaigns all have one thing in common; they help make the products they promote remarkable. Through innovative campaigns that use surprise, humour, intrigue, or delight, these campaigns get the products they are promoting onto conversational agendas. By getting onto conversational agendas they raise the product's salience in the minds of their target buyers and create conversational contexts conducive to sharing opinions. By creating conversational contexts conducive to sharing opinions, more opinions are shared, and if those opinions are positive, sales are boosted.34
This simple economic rationale behind viral, buzz and word of mouth marketing shows how campaign buzz is a means to an end and not an end in itself. Campaigns create conversations, and conversations stimulate opinion sharing. As the General Motors buzz campaign for the Pontiac G6 illustrates, big buzz alone does not make big bucks. Campaigns that only generate buzz about themselves rather than the products sponsoring the buzz are no more useful than ads that sell themselves rather than the products they are supposed to sell. The key point to remember here is that it is product advocacy, not campaign buzz, that is proven to drive sales growth.35
So when should viral, buzz or word of mouth techniques be employed? The answer is deceptively simple: when your product delivers an experience that exceeds expectations.36 Products that deliver experiences that exceed expectations are more likely to get advocated when they get onto conversational agendas. Of course, many products and services are not exciting enough, on their own, to get talked about. What viral, buzz and word of mouth campaigns do is add the excitement necessary to get them talked about. When this happens, opinions get shared and superior products benefit, but bad products suffer: viral, buzz and word of mouth campaigns don't create word of mouth in a vacuum; they unlock, stimulate and accelerate the natural word of mouth potential of your product.
One simple way to decide whether your product sales are likely to benefit from a viral, buzz, or word of mouth campaign is to ask your clients, customers or consumers how likely it is that they would, if prompted, recommend your product or service to your friends, family or colleagues?37 The more likely it is that people would recommend your product, the more likely it is your sales will benefit from viral, buzz and word of mouth campaigns. On the other hand, if people are unlikely to recommend your product, even when prompted or elicited for an opinion, then it is unlikely that viral, buzz or word of mouth techniques will boost your sales. Like advertising that works when you have something worth advertising, viral, buzz and word of mouth campaigns work when you have something worth recommending.
Was this article helpful?