Final Word on Buzz Marketing

Buzz marketing has been an obsession of mine these last few months. When I get interested in something I tend to focus on that one thing exclusively until I understand it fully, or at least to my own satisfaction. The reason I only recently became interested in buzz marketing is because I tend to prefer brand building over short term strategies such as SEO, publicity stunts, etc.

In the course of my studies, we did receive quite a lot of “buzz”. I wrote about it in my “Buzz Marketing” post a month ago. The major buzz was the SEO Contest, which is currently the biggest SEO contest in history. It was blogged about, it was buzzed in forums, made news on pretty much every SEO news site, and made the Wall Street Journal twice.

Well, I’m done thinking and have come to a conclusion. My conclusion is that buzz marketing for the sake of buzz marketing is crap. Sure, it gets you a ton of hits, but that’s about it. Whoopie. Sure it’s nice to be in the Wall Street Journal and every other SEO news blog, but there is a huge downside. The first impression of v7n / John Scott for a lot of people now is one of “Oh, that SEO contest guy”.

Seriously, people equating me with SEO contests is horrible. What happened to John Scott the Arrogant Ass, John Scott the Rugged Sexy Guy, John Scott the Anti SEO Guy? Now I’m just “that SEO contest guy”???

First impressions mean a lot in marketing, and to have one’s first impression associated with a publicity stunt is probably not the ideal way of marketing a product or service (in my case, v7n.com).

So do we give up on buzz entirely?

No. We just focus on getting buzz for the right things. Brand building buzz, not publicity buzz.

When Darren Rowse got buzzed for his six figure income from blogging, that’s targeted, brand building buzz insofar as it builds his brand as a professional, “pro blogger”. If Darren Rowse had been buzzed for wearing colors that clash, or for taking cute pictures of kittens, that would be untargeted, brand-worthless buzz.

Another case study might be Godaddy and the buzz surrounding the controversial Superbowl commercial. At the time, a search on Google News for Godaddy resulted in close to 3,000 news items discussing the ad and the bizarre cancellation of the second airing of the ad.

Did the ad grow awareness of Godaddy? Sure. But unless Godaddy is a social organization committed to fighting bizarre prudishness in American broadcasting, the publicity did not build their brand. Their brand as a domain registrar and webhost is not affected by a less than attractive bimbo with faulty shoulder straps.

The best buzz is the buzz you get for being the leader in your market. The best buzz is the buzz you get by doing things better than others. Be the best, be original, be the leader, be noteworthy. That buzz builds brands.

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