In really important news today, WOMMA's Andy Sernovitz has, reportedly, called BzzAgent CEO Dave Balter a dick. Read all about it here. It seems Sernovitz is miffed by all the publicity BzzAgent gets but Balter says that is no fault of his. It's just lazy journalists who hold BzzAgent up as the only practitioner in the space which, of course, is not true and Balter acknowledges that.. Ever since buzz marketing and word of mouth marketing started and back to the days of Justin Kirby (who seems to have disappeared off the face of the planet) there have been these in explicable tiffs among people in this space. I don't know if it's a young industry trying to define itself or the personalities of the people involved but I do know it's dumb and unproductive.
Errol Smith tells us, "In response to all the chatter about Jack Trout's comments on word-of-mouth marketing, Jack Trout invited a group of "buzz evangelist" to face off with him on his radio program. Steve Rubel and Rick Murray of Edelman, Emanuel Rosen of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, Seth Godin, Joseph Jaffe and Errol Smith (me....producer of Trout Radio) sat down to deconstruct the buzz around word-of-mouth." Listen here.
Just as they did with teen buzz marketing entity Tremor, Procter & Gamble has opened up its 500,000-strong Vocalpoint, a buzz marketing program for moms. WD-40 in using Vocalpoint to create buzz about its new No-Mess Pen, a pen-sized lubricant that extends usage of the company's spray can version of the product. For now, Vocalpoint will be the only medium though which the product will be advertised.
Writing in Forbes, the legendary Jack Trout pokes a hole in the word of mouth bubble claiming its nothing new and in early days basically accomplished the same thing by tapping "early adapters" with traditional marketing to get them to talk up a product. He riffs on both the positives and the negatives of the current flavor of word of mouth and questions the relinquishing of control marketers give up if they plan to enter the word of mouth space writing, "If I go to all this trouble developing a positioning strategy for my product, I want to see that message delivered. Buzz can get your name mentioned but you can't depend on much else." Certainly the current iteration isn't completely about giving up control as it's filled with tactics and strategies to control, guide, enable and direct the seemingly uncontrollable but, Trout does have a point.
Chris Thilk who writes the Movie Marketing Madness weblog has compiled a list of five tips movie marketers should heed when launching a movie marketing campaign. Chief among the tips is the recognition that the studio is not nor should be the sole source of information and content about a given movie. Thilk suggests studios should acknowledge and link to other sources of information about a movie rather than pretend the studio's website is the only place for movie info. He also says studios should make use of RSS to push out updates and deliver added information rather than require a movie's fans to remember to return to the site. Thilk also says studios should take an active role in joining the ongoing online conversation about a movie by searching Technorati for mentions and responding to what's being said about the movie.
Steve Rubel points to a brand's worst nightmare, Buzz-O-Phone, a service that collects opinions "about a product, service, brand or company? You know, something you either really, really love or really, really hate?" Basically, it's a centalized bitching center that converts the bitching into a podcast for the world to subscribe to making it even more difficult for brands to anachronistically attempt to control their message.
The service was created by Matt Galloway as a means to explore word of mouth. While some brands may initially suffer from pinheads who have nothing better to do in life than complain, it won't be long before brands in the know begin to game the system seeding it with oh-so-glowing commentary on their brand ot product.
When one is hoodwinked, the natural reaction is to get mad and start calling people names but we're not going to do that because we think this hoodwink was one of the best marketing stunts to come around in a long time. As we reported in late January, a helicopter with a naked guy hanging from it was spotted at New Zealand's Big Day Out but the stunt went wrong and the guy fell to the ground and was injured. We also received a taped conversation between what was assumed to be a representative of New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority and a person at DDB, the agency thought to be behind the stunt in which the CAA representative was trying to obtain details of the event.
None of this happened. While we were skeptical at the time and knew New Zealand site Nzgirl had something to do with the stunt, we couldn't get anyone to confirm or deny anything. As it turns out, Nzgirl, which has a reputation of doing crazy, stunts, wanted to top everything they'd done before so they decided to do nothing...except tell a few people they did and let the rumor mill run with it. A dozen people were hired to spread the story about the helicopter and the nude guy and that was it. New Zealand media bit and reported the story as if it had happened albeit with a bit of distrust. Nzgirl reaveals all here.
In a same but different approach to its business model, buzz marketing firm BzzAgent has launched an Agency Partner program that packages BzzAgents services in a way that is easily packaged for ad agencies to implement word-of-mouth campaigns for their clients. The new service allows members of the company's Agency Partner Program to implement word-of-mouth campaigns for their clients' products and services on the BzzAgent network. Partner agencies maintain significant control over campaign strategy, creative and messaging with BzzAgent supplying the technology platform to implement, manage and measure the campaign.
While extending the service to agencies, making it easier for them to engage in word-of-mouth marketing, let's hope that the control afforded agencies doesn't turn buzz marketing campaigns into staged elevator speech message delivery. After all, though things are changing, we all know how us agency types like to "stay on message."
Owen Mack from coBRANDiT conducted a series of interviews at the recent Word of Mouth Marketing Association conference in Orlando. Mack interviewed Intelliseek's Pete Blackshaw, Ad Age's Bob Garfield, Cooper Katz's Steve Rubel, Brand Autopsy's John Moore, Weblogs Inc.'s Steve Friedman and many more capturing industry perspectives on the current state of word of mouth marketing and why many feel it's on its way to becoming a predominant medium.
Northeastern University Department of Communication Assistant Professor Walter Carl and BzzAgent have released a study entitled To Tell or Not to Tell which explored how disclosure and transparency, two hot buttons in the word of mouth segment, effected campaigns. Initially, it was thought disclosing one's involvement in a word of mouth campaign would have negative effects. Carl's study proves that notion wrong and finds disclosure actually can increase the effectiveness of a word of mouth campaign.
The study found 75 percent of those targeted by a word of mouth participant were not bothered by speaking with someone affiliated with a campaign and that honesty and respect for the person's best interests was very important. Of note, the study found honest disclosure actually increased pass-along or the number of people the person told once they had spoken with a word of mouth marketing agent. Word of mouth was also found to increase the believability of other sources of brand claims made in other media when a person heard similar information from a word of mouth marketing agent. The study did reveal, five percent of participants were negatively affected if they were not told they were being marketed to.
We can hear the yelps of glee all the way up here in the Northeast as this study is presented today to attendees at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association conference in Orlando.