Is Buzz Marketing A Buzzword

Buzz Marketing Gets The Word Out‘ was a two page article in the Montreal Gazette today. Is Buzz Marketing just a buzzword or is there something of substance here. You can choose your own definition of buzzword of course. Here are three from Google:

  • a trendy word or phrase that is used more to impress than explain.
  • a technical term, consisting of a word or phrase, that has special meaning to a small group of people.
  • stock phrases that have become nonsense through endless repetition

Is Buzz Marketing just another passing craze? Is this just an updated version of Stealth Marketing? That buzzword came up in an interview I had with Susan Bell of CBC in the fall of 2002. I mentioned Gearwerx, a Montreal Agency, that was involved in stealth marketing at that time. It involved the use of paid employees by a company who would pretend to be members of the public who had bought the new product. They would wander around public places and extoll the product’s benefits to whoever would listen. The ethical problems of that approach seem to have buried that particular buzzword.

Buzz Marketing seems to have more legs. Indeed as the article says there’s just been a meeting of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association in Chicago with 400 attendees. Gearwerx is now one of the strong local proponents of Buzz Marketing. Surprisingly the article doesn’t mention an even more popular current buzzword that explains why this approach will last and grow.

That’s the Long Tail Principle invented by Chris Anderson. This suggests that in many markets you can no longer consider a mass market appeal but instead should realize that a considerable part of the ‘market’ is made up of micromarkets. The consumers in these micromarkets have very different characteristics and cannot be reached by any mass market approach. Instead you’ve got to develop ways in which the word spreads ‘naturally’.

It’s also called ‘viral marketing‘. That’s people spreading the word to other people. Viral marketing, buzz marketing, they seem to mean the same thing and indeed Google has almost exactly the same number of web pages that mention each of them. Whatever you call it, it would seem to be something that is here to stay.

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