Last updated: 05/17/2013
So you thought you can turn the planet upside down by starting a business. You were certain that you’ll be different and special. You wanted clients not only to come and buy your product [or use your service], but to recommend your business. Maybe you had a marketing plan, a strategy filled with various strong must-do projects. You’ve even selected the perfect team to build up an impossible-to-fail program. But you've reached a point where you're just not making any progress. In this kind of a situation where your business is stuck in a rut, generating some buzz could be the answer.
First, focus on your product.Be remarkable and sentimental: tell your story right.
You might know every administrative detail there is about the person that buys your products, but do you imagine being that person? Do you picture yourself as your own customer? Feelings and emotions have the big advantage to help you run a much more “personal” business. No matter what product you put in your shop window, you should be very sure that your selling methods have a particular approach. Because whatever you sell, must represent, one way or another, your consumer. You know this already. A car represents you just like your clothes, the places you go to, the pet you own or the music you listen to also help define you.
Concentrate upon the emotional aspects of your products or services and get to your audience. Tell your message right. And everything you say, say it with a personal touch.
Find your USP.
Maybe you have a specific product. Not a very…common one. Maybe it’s a very [very] expensive one or it can’t be used in cold climate areas. Maybe it’s designed for a limited target. Or you sell something normal, ordinary and simple. Either way, you should pick a reason why. Yes, why do you sell that x product? Why do you want people to use your service and not somebody else’s? USP [Unique Selling Proposition]: It’s a marketing concept that you have to write down. Without knowing why your product or service is different from another one [from the same field] is like chopping trees with no particular reason. Once you know your USP, figure out how best to explain it in a simple manner.
Use good ideas, not good celebrities.
Marketers will advise you to go big. To scream your name in the middle of the street or to have a celebrity endorse your products. The celebrity is going to take your money and go home for sure, but you're left with a bill and your business still needs to be run regardless of the outcome.
A better way to generate buzz is to spend on marketing but to do so in a cost-effective way. An example is the insurance company GEICO. It produces highly innovative commercials yet uses few celebrities. Below is an example of a commerical that's funny yet gets the message across. GEICO's caveman series of commercials are epic.
Advertise, advertise, advertise.
Thinking that advertising is a waste of money won’t help you very much to stay alive on the market. Find a very good and highly creative advertising agency and ask them for help. You don't need to go to the big names, rather find small studios hungry for your work and looking to make a name for themselves.
Choose unconventional campaigns.
The internet allows you to merge creative talent with the process of building your brand. And you can do this for a cost much lower than what was possible a few years ago. For example here are two advertisements - one from a small-business. While their advertising budgets may not have been substantial, their results certainly are. The fact is that if your advertisement is entertaining or informs a certain audience, then people will share your message. This is mostly true if its in an electronic form such as a YouTube video that makes sharing easy. Once a video is seen over a million times, in a particular medium, without having to pay anything for the free publicity, consider your marketing campaign to be a viral success. The first video is simple in what it does. It just shows prospective customers/users what can be done with the GoPro Hero3. The second video is simply quite humorous while at the same time appearing to be matter-of-fact.
Do some teasing-activities every now and then.
People love to be intrigued and the more you challenge them, the more they’ll respond in the desired way. For example if you are a restaurant, offer gift certificates as prizes for contests conducted via local FM radio. The radio station gets to offer stuff for free and you get publicity in a very personal way by getting people to visit your restaurant. Just make sure the experience at the restaurant is immaculate so that you get some more viral publicity.
Get involved with a few eco-friendly or environmental awareness initiatives. Becoming a sponsor for green awareness activities will get you a great reputation and you’ll perform a good deed along the way too.
Then, focus on your audience.Give people your product. For free.
No, not forever. Just organize some event in which your customers can test/experience your product. Give them free samples and ask them to get back to you with opinions and thoughts regarding your product.
Expand your market
You've heard of Groupon and Amazon Local Deals but have you tried either one? Give out a week of services or products at cost. Get people inside your establishment and they will come back. With small businesses this initial wave of customers looking for deals is often painful. Because giving out great deals often means giving up profits completely. But another way to look at this is like "working-marketing" where you work interactively as a part of your marketing campaign.
For example if you are a nail-salon and you have a beautiful establishment, its important that you get people to visit to actually experience this fact. Otherwise your interior design expenditure is going to be wasted. Locally, all you need is to match the price of the nearest competitor and give a superior experience and you'll have your customers. But do this exercise with some planning. People who are happy with your service will often not praise you online but disgruntled customers will often post reviews on sites like Yelp.
What you want is for customers to be genuinely happy and to encourage them to post positive reviews. Just ask nicely. People are more than happy to help out.
Coming up every day with something refreshing and new may be exhausting, let’s be practical. Great creative content and non-partisan news are a little bit too idealistic for our times. However, you must keep these two objectives. You own a dynamic brand that dances on a [permanently] moving dance floor. So, news you have. Dress it in a beautiful package and post it on a blog. Your brand’s blog. A personal-professional page.Allow the audience to get wind of your brand’s personality. Let them meet your team. Write intriguing content, funny yet tasteful articles. Write something that nobody can find out anywhere else. For example if you manufacture routers, give people a tip that they cannot get elsewhere on how to improve your routers performance.
Why don’t you give your target the steering wheel? Search and research until you find a way to make your audience build a buzz for you. Flash mobs may be a little difficult to accomplish if you’re selling toothpicks still, create the atmosphere, buy the furniture, rent a place, install video cameras and offer them the stage. For example if you are a new clothing manufacturer, get a pop-up-store around Times Square and shoot a lot of video. Gets people's opinions on video. Base your marketing plans, in part,on these opinions. You'll come across as a customer focused business.
And don’t forget about the ones who can help you.Meet people who know people. Make friends in the press.
Jim Morrison said:“Whoever controls the media controls the mind.”
Connect with journalists from every single channel of communication you know: radio, TV, magazines, newspapers. Find those shows/columns [and people who are in charge of them] that are related to your industry. Organize meetings and send them press releases so they can be informed [in real time] about your promotions, entries, events or [launching/promoting] campaigns. Maybe they won’t put you on the Time magazine’s cover, but they will know. Be invited to interviews as an expert. The publicity you get from big media just for a small feature is unbeatable and especially if its free.
Figure out ways to work with other complimentary businesses to share marketing costs. For example if you make salsa, talk to a tortilla chip company. Accept your competitor's coupons. For example, Home Depot often accepts Lowes coupons.
Target core influencers.
If you're in a specialized field, you can focus your energies onto a very targeted field of people. For example if you offer on-the-fly encryption for a certain web server, be sure to participate in conferences that such people attend. Often, as a sponsor you can speak about your product and explain its abilities and value proposition. The opinion of these core influencers is followed by hundreds of people who make purchase decisions.
Always do the right thing to build a reputation.
A top furniture company from whom I bought a bed had some problems a year after the purchase. I complained and the company sent me a new bed. This attention to customer satisfaction ranks very highly in my books. And I would not hesitate to recommend this company to anyone if I were asked for an opinion. If you can, go above and beyond what's on paper to make your customer happy.
“The superior man understands what is right.
The inferior man understands what will sell.”
Hopefully this article has given you a few ideas on generating buzz.