“Buzzmarketing” Book Review

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I’m an engineer and web developer by trade so I don’t know why I’ve been reading so many marketing books lately. I just am so leave me alone. I have to say this was one of the better marketing books. I literally blew through this 256 page book in 1 day over vacation. It was a fast read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m a pragmatic guy, and I like books that are filled with actionable advice. Highly opinionated books that spout highfalutin theories and concepts don’t go well with me.

“Buzzmarketing: Get People to Talk About Your Stuff” By Mark Hughes is a quick dive into how some well known brands (and some not so well known ones) used word of mouth to create successful campaigns and gain market share. The premise of the book is that traditional marketing methods yield traditional and average results. Word of mouth can be 10 times more effective than TV or print.

Half.com is given lots of coverage. In case you missed the hoopla that was the Internet bubble, Half.com got the town of Halfway Oregon to rename their town to Half.com for a year in exchange for about $100,000 worth of economic funds, computers, and website development. For that they got major media coverage from the likes of Good Morning America, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, South China News, radio and TV stations. The buzz associated with that PR stunt resulted in 8 million users in 3 years as well as the eBay buyout for $300 million within 6 months.
Other equally exciting stories include Miller Lite, American Idol, and Apple.

I don’t want to give away too much of the book, but to summarize: you need to press the 6 Buttons that Start Conversations:

  • Taboo
  • Unusual
  • Outrageous
  • Hilarious
  • Remarkable
  • Secret

One good point he makes is that you should create content, not ads. People on the web already know this. People go to blogs for good content, not for the ads. 6 times as many people read articles over ads – the point should be obvious by now. This is such a short book, to give away anymore would be a disservice to the author. You should just go get it on Amazon. Better yet – get it at Half.com.

If you like this sort of book, I would also recommend these other books I’ve read:

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“Buying In” Book Review

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I received a sneak copy of “Buying In” by Rob Walker from Random House several weeks ago. Although I am not in sales, marketing or advertising, I enjoy these kinds of books because they give me insight into how to better market products I create both to the end user and management.

Walker’s book talks about the marketing in today’s Internet age and how we as consumers have a dialogue with the products we consume and shape the brands just as much as they shape us. Traditional marketing no longer works with the new consumer and we’ve become immune to ads. We skip through commercials when we Tivo; we no longer notice banner ads on the Internet, much less click on them. Companies now resort to what Walker calls murky marketing or murketing where the line between advertising and word of mouth recommendations are blurred.

Traditional marketing campaigns make way to new strategies. The Toyota Scion campaign, for example, in trying not to be perceived as mainstream was run more like an underground rapper’s. Walker covers many interesting accounts of the rise of familiar brands such as Red Bull, Axe, and American Apparel.

For all the murketing that happens, we are also having an effect on the brands. Although originally Timberland was meant as a blue collar work boot, fashionable urban consumers, hip-hop and R&B artists were demanding pink and yellow colored boots to the tune of $1.6 billion.

To be honest, the beginning of the book was pretty dry, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to finish it. However, it does get better. What I really enjoyed were the various studies done. One that comes to mind is the SoBe Adrenaline Rush energy drink experiment. Subjects were told that scientific studies suggested that drinks like SoBe can significantly improve mental functioning. Some were told the drink cost the full retail price while others were told it cost half that. Members who drank the full price drink and told that the drink improved mental functioning performed significantly better than the other groups. So the power of suggestion can improve not only perception but also performance. Also interesting, but not surprising, when it comes to eco-friendliness, people do not do what they say.

One errata I found irritating was the claim that Red Bull was “invented” by an Austrian named Dietrich Mateschitz. Red Bull was invented in Thailand by a Thai chemist. I know that because my mom went to college with said chemist who is now quite wealthy. Krating Daeng literally translated “Red Bull” has been the tonic drink Thai truck drivers have been consuming for decades to stave off fatigue. Watering it down with carbonated water hardly constitutes inventing.

Overall, I found the book an entertaining read as far as marketing and advertising books go but definitely not one of my favorites. But if you like these kinds of books, I would recommend these:

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