April 2007 - Online Strategies

Trends in Viral and Buzz Marketing

By Chas Salmore

If, in today’s online world of YouTube, MySpace and Digg everyone can be famous for 15 minutes, how do DR marketers harness the ever-growing consumer urge to influence the very foundation of brands and products? And, most importantly, how will anyone monetize original consumer generated media (CGM) on the web?

According to Jim Stengel, CMO of Proctor & Gamble, “selling and telling” is defunct. It is gone forever. In his recent address to the AAAA Media Conference and Trade Show in Las Vegas, Stengel stated that carefully crafted messages that are force-fed through traditional media distribution channels are largely being ignored by today’s Internet-savvy consumers. In fact, it’s no longer a one-way communication medium. The old guard “formula” is history. The web has brought fundamental and irreversible changes to the way marketers promote their brands. Instead, it’s about bringing a genuine relationship to everything, everywhere and everyone. Nowadays, people are talking to each other in honest, real, one-to-one online conversations. They can make or break your success.

Infomercial and short-form DRTV campaigns need a pro-active word-of-mouth (buzz) marketing partner who can identify, as well as clearly target consumers. The goal is to engage them, excite them and sell them. Buzz can be used for a variety of applications, including lead generation, testimonials (spreading of “homegrown” viral video), as well as link-to-product websites. It’s a pro-active and smart strategy-rather than waiting passively for consumers to act.

Recently, Proctor & Gamble launched an online word-of-mouth marketing campaign, using P&G-owned “The People’s Choice Awards” as the promotional vehicle. Our on-staff, in-house brand ambassadors respectfully entered thousands of chat-rooms, social networks, blogs, forums and other targeted online communities. Once there, they connected with these consumers in a clear, genuine and transparent manner to talk about “The People’s Choice Awards,” Proctor & Gamble products, as well as spreading positive information around the web.

Grey Advertising created an impressive sweepstakes and “Win-A-Trip-to-Hollywood” promotion. More than 6.2 million people voted online for the primetime network special and registered for the contest. We implemented, tracked, measured and analyzed the buzz campaign and impact of this three-month project.

Buzz can spot trends and help with crisis management. People are not shy online, and they will tell you exactly what they are thinking. This can be a goldmine for marketers to learn the true and unbiased strengths and weaknesses of an offering. Buzz goes even deeper, allowing genuine two-way engagements and the power of “influencers” to forward your message, up to 10 times the original conversation. It’s a ripple effect.

Charles “Chas” Salmore is CEO of Marketingworks Inc. in Los Angeles. He can be reached at (323) 436-2000, or via e-mail at [email protected].


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