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February 19, 2008

10 Simple Ways to Generate Buzz & Word-of-Mouth Part 3

As i mentioned in the last article, Word-of-Mouth Success, you don’t have to just sit around and pray for good word of mouth or great buzz — you can actively work to promote it. Check out my suggestions on generating buzz for you, your product, or your service, in the following sections.

Coining a great new phrase

One way to get people talking is to come up with a new expression associated with your business. People love to be in the know and ahead of the curve, and many people love things just because they’re new — and that includes language. In fact, many great ad campaigns were successful because they (often unwittingly) created a new expression that people started using in everyday life and conversation. Think of the saying “Where’s the beef?” This expression was first used in a Wendy’s commercial, where a gruff little old lady was literally looking for the meat in her hamburger, but the expression came to be used in any situation where the substance of something was missing.

Tip: One way to coin a new phrase is to turn your business’s or product’s name into a verb. For example, think of the example of, an Internet search engine you’re probably familiar with. People now talk about “I Googled it to find out more about it. . . .” So now, when someone needs to look something up on the Internet, is probably one of the first search engines to come to mind.

Companies used to hate this appropriation of their names. For example, Kleenex and Xerox fought to prevent their brand names from becoming synonymous with the product itself (in this case, face tissue and photocopying). Now, however, many companies are delighted to have that “problem,” because it means that consumers view their names as the brand readers. If your company or brand name becomes part of the popular lexicon, that’s a great way to advertise your business!

Hiring beautiful people to promote your product

Another way to get people talking is to give them something interesting to talk about. If your product or business isn’t already fabulous, try to attach it to something that is. And if your business is already exciting, associate it with something even more intriguing!

For example, Vespas are little known in the United States, though these little scooters are everywhere in Italy. Vespa helped make inroads (pun intended) into the U.S. market by hiring gorgeous models to ride around Los Angeles, stop in at various cafes and have a coffee while chatting with other customers about their cool mini-motorbikes. The models weren’t famous, but they were beautiful, and they attracted attention to themselves first but then to the product they were promoting, and the whole stunt generated buzz — in a city where that’s tough to do!

Taking advantage of celebrity endorsements

If you can get the attention of a celebrity — either purposely or serendipitously, you should leverage that attention as much as possible.

Okay, you can’t solicit spontaneous celebrity mentions, but you can leverage them if they happen on their own. For example, Sandra Bullock became a one-woman marketing machine for Listerine PocketPaks (those little tab-sized breath strips that were introduced in 2005) when she talked about them nonstop at the Oscars in 2002.

Similarly, Rush Limbaugh created buzz for The Millionaire Next Door, a very interesting book that was little known until Limbaugh mentioned it on his radio show, which has an enormous listening audience. The book has since sold more than 2 million copies, and it was on the New York Times bestseller list for 3 years.

If I were working to promote either of the above products, you can bet your last dollar I would do everything possible to maximize that exposure. For example, I would have copies of the Oscar footage where Sandra Bullock talked about the Listerine PocketPaks, and I’d send that video and quote her in all future marketing for that product. And I’d get in touch with her to find out whether she’d be willing to go further and become a spokeswoman for the brand or whether I could use her endorsement in future ad campaigns. Regarding Mr. Limbaugh, if I had been the publisher of that book, I’d have immediately contacted him to get a written endorsement of the book, which I would then feature on every future copy and edition of the book and all subsequent marketing, advertising, and sales materials. You should look for the same opportunities.

So how do you maximize on celebrity exposure? Here are a few things that I would do:

  • Get a copy of what the celebrity said about your product or business, or request a written endorsement.
  • Obtain permission from that celebrity (in writing, of course) to use his comments in your future ad campaigns.
  • Consider asking that celebrity to be your spokesperson.

Throwing a party

Generating buzz by throwing a big bash is considered a publicity party, and publicity isn’t advertising, of course, but parties can generate word of mouth as well as publicity in newspapers, magazines, and other media. The party itself probably won’t be free (unless you can get friends and fans to provide the space and the food and drink, and send out the invitations, which you quite possibly can!). But even if you do have to incur some costs to throw a party, it can be money very well spent because of the word of mouth it can generate.

You can throw a party to announce a grand opening of your store, to introduce a new product or invention, or to celebrate an anniversary, such as the tenth anniversary of your being in business — or anything else that’s new with your business. Of course, you should invite news people, from all the local newspapers (your major city paper as well as smaller neighborhood papers, and freebies around town), local magazines, and local TV and radio personalities, but you also want to invite everyone you know who you think can talk about your product or business in an interesting, exciting way. If they have a great time at your party, they’re more likely to tell all their friends, colleagues, neighbors, and acquaintances about it — especially if you’ve done something unique at the party or given away something fabulous.

For example, one publicity party I attended for a book about a very successful black entrepreneur generated lots of word of mouth. Why? Because the hostess invited Coretta Scott King — and she came, with one of her sons! That was exciting: She and her late husband, the Reverend Martin Luther King, are legends in the world of civil rights, and many people at the party welcomed this unique opportunity to meet her. Mrs. King’s presence at the party got people talking, and it helped the book become a business bestseller and sell more than 100,000 copies, which is terrific for a business book.

Tune in next time, when we look at how you generate buzz by taking your product or service to the streets, blogs have become one of the key media for word of mouth – find out how to utilize them to best effect, and figuring out where to find your big mouths! (see the last article)

Author:  Andy MacDonald, CEO of Swift Media UK, a website design & search marketing company. For daily tips on Blogging, Marketing, SEO & Making Money Online, Checkout our SEO & Marketing Tips for Webmasters blog or Subscribe by RSS.