Updated May 22, 2023
Difference between Buzz vs Viral Marketing
How does a product or brand succeed in the marketplace? Many would say it’s due to marketing; by that, they mean mass media campaigns through TV, Radio, newspapers, and magazines. Some say hoardings in public places and malls may help create brand awareness.
A mass media campaign may help develop a brand and enable brand recall over a period of time. However, some products and services do well before or after launching in the market.
Buzz marketing refers to marketing mostly by word-of-mouth and viral marketing when it happens online. In India, people keep talking about new offers in jewelry, new movies, textile showrooms, mobile phone launches, and automobile companies.
The film industry uses large banners and hoardings mounted on mini trucks or pick-up vans portraying the film’s superstars and songs to attract attention and get people to talk about the movie.
Buzz marketing is not something new. Ahead of elections, It has been employed by drama troupes, circuses, and political parties. Circuses parade elephants, birds, and clowns on the https://outlook.live.com/owa/ streets to attract the attention of the people and create a buzz, especially among children, who are the prime targets for viewing such performances.
Buzz marketing is a word-of-mouth campaign where the initial trigger could come from a road show or announcements made through jeeps, trucks, vans, or even two-wheelers. Viral campaigns, on the other hand, are chiefly liked and shared through social media (mainly Twitter, FaceBook, Reddit, and LinkedIn) and become the talk of the town. In other words, buzz marketing is more of an offline phenomenon, while viral marketing is more of an online phenomenon.
Buzz Marketing vs Viral Marketing Infographics
The below infographics on Buzz Marketing vs Viral Marketing throws light on the major differences between the two.
Factors that help in buzz marketing
According to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, there are certain factors that could help create a successful buzz campaign.
1. There has to be a topic of conversation
For the success of any buzz marketing campaign, first of all, there should be a brand to discuss. Aligned to it is the important principle that the campaign should have content that gives people something to talk about, according to Mark Hughes, author of the best-seller Buzz Marketing.
The most talked about buzz marketing campaign involved Mark Hughes himself. He created a buzz around www.half.com, the company he was working for, by paying to rename a city by that name. Soon it spread in newspapers and television. No sooner people also started talking about it. eBay purchased the website within twenty days for $300 mn. The buzz spread faster even as eBay bought it, and traffic rose from nothing to eight million in three years. Time Magazine described it as one of the greatest publicity coups in history.
Blendtec, a blender manufacturer, wanted to prove its power by crushing Iphones, marbles and paintballs into smoothies. The video uploaded on YouTube became the talk of the town. The brand is connected to such outrageous marketing and relevant to what it does.
2. Get influencers to work for you
Buzz marketing will be successful unless some influencers in the community or industry spread awareness of the message. Otherwise, it’s humanly impossible to talk about that topic all of a sudden.
Reckitt Benckiser, the promoters of the Dettol brand, distributed 48,000 samples to 4000 influencer mothers with the message try one sample and share ten with others. This also helped the company reach 46% of the target audience, resulting in an 86% rise in sales. Hence, this is a perfect example of how a company can leverage key influencers to create a buzz around a brand.
3. There must be something remarkable about the offers
Customers attract to offers like-‘Buy two, get one free, ‘Buy one get one free’, and ‘Lifelong warranty’. Although sales grow with such offers, people don’t see anything remarkable in such offers. But Zappos stands out in making a remarkable offer and succeeding in it. It gave a ‘365 day’ return policy and unmatched customer service. The company’s CEO, Tony Hsieh, intentionally budgeted money for returns and quality customer service, offsetting the budget for marketing. It paid off in the long run as people started talking about it. Good customer service helped the company achieve$2bn dollar sales.
4. Give a good experience to share
Maggi created a sensation in Indian schools in the mid-eighties by distributing one packet of Maggi 2-minute noodles to schoolchildren nationwide. Maggi, a novel processed food, was introducing a ready-to-cook concept for the first time. Kids loved it and began talking about it, urging parents to buy more. Likewise, Coconut Bliss reached out to more customers in US markets through tasting parties and demonstrations. Social media has also helped build the non-dairy dessert alternative. It is a well-known fact that buzz marketing needs something to be talked about. People want to share experiences among their network of friends and co-workers.
5. Have variety in Buzz marketing
If a product doesn’t engage in activities other than direct sales, it won’t get attention. The energy drink manufacturer Red Bull undertook various activities to make people talk about the brand. It involved employees distributing Red Bull in their own branded vehicle, sponsoring student talent shows, devising the Student brand manager program, and sponsoring journalism and film students to create news stories around the Red Bull Brand.
According to Andy Sernovitz, author of Word of Mouth Marketing, ‘you will get more word of mouth from making people happy than anything else you could possibly do’. AdAge surveyed the youth ten years ago to find out what influenced their purchasing decision most. Nearly 70% felt word-of-mouth is more reliable than mass media campaigns.
Viral marketing- the online equivalent
If Buzz marketing is more of an offline strategy to get people to talk about their products or brands, viral marketing is the best online strategy to spread the message. Some of the principles that apply to buzz marketing are also applicable to viral marketing in that there should be a good brand, some information to talk about, and something unique, remarkable, or outrageous about it.
Just as a computer virus program spreads like wildfire as more people open an application or install it on their computer, viral campaigns spread on the strength of its uniqueness and offering.
1. Give something free
Hotmail is the most quoted example of giving a service free but adding a simple tag at the bottom of every message the user sends-‘Get your private, free email at http://www.hotmail.com’. It could be in the form of free mobile apps, free email, free information services, or free software downloads. Free attracts interest and eyeballs, which in turn generate a database of email addresses, increased ad revenue, and e-commerce sales opportunities. Because of advertisement support, newspapers and magazines are sold at a high price compared to printing costs. More people see popular television series because they are free and paid for by advertisers.
2. Emotional connection required
Viral marketing won’t succeed as in Buzz marketing if there is a lack of emotion in the campaign. It should be able to trigger a laugh, shock, surprise, curiosity, bewilderment, or astonishment. One such example of excitement is the Red Bulls’ campaign showing the video of Torro Rosso’s F1 car being dropped by helicopter into a ski rope and then raced. ALS Ice Bucket challenge evoked sympathy, while Panda Cheese commercials evoked curiosity.
3. Promote social responsibility with branding
People associate goodness with the brand when a company is known as a responsible corporate citizen. The classic example is the trend set by the ALS ICE Bucket Challenge. All that was required was to dump a bucket of water over yourself, shoot them on video, and share it. It attracted $100 mn in charity and had endorsements from Zuckerburg, Martha Stewart, Oprah, Bill Gates, and other celebrities.
4. Make it real life
Real-life videos have the charm of attracting a large audience rather than those based on a creative script. America’s Funniest Home Videos and TNT’Drama Button campaign were much talked about as they involved humor, surprise, or shock. The people are asked to respond to a situation or question.
5. There should be a brand connection
Marketers often spend time and money creating viral content on video, FaceBook, or websites, but what is missing is the connection of the message with the brand. Sometimes, it could be good humor enjoyed for what it is, but the brand may not gain much, or sales may not happen because the brand connection is missing in the campaign. The perfect examples are the ReTweet to Feed a Hungry Child campaign of Kellogs UK and the Evian Roller Babies campaign, promoting their drinking water. The video had 70 mn views. The message is intended to convey that drinking Evian water could help you be energetic and young as babies. The videos did nothing to boost the brand or sales conversions, as the brand connection was missing.
Align with unexpected partners to grab attention. Getting some players outside your industry to team up with is better. Like, The Walking Dead teamed up with UC Irvine to create an open online course about the zombie apocalypse. Likewise, the HP-Kiva tie-up helped generate $25 from employees as donations for a charitable project of their choice. Both companies benefitted from the exposure as a responsible corporate citizens.
6. Leverage the power of social media, online
Any campaign shared and discussed on FaceBook or Twitter has a better chance of going viral as more people use it and engage in such platforms. In fact, the dominant trend for 2016 is social media itself becoming a media rather than a marketing strategy.
Buzz and viral marketing apply the same principles to get noticed and talked about. In fact, they share some common features and a subtle difference in the media through which it gets talked about. Buzz marketing is more event-based, either by way of road shows or on-wheel campaigns to promote a product with music, dance, and humor capable of attracting crowds where ever it goes. Even before the advent of technology and mass media, buzz marketing was in vogue through short skits, demonstrations, street plays, processions, etc.
Compared to traditional media, word-of-mouth campaigns are generally inexpensive and give a better return on investment (ROI). Viral marketing, the online version of word-of-mouth advertising, can’t go viral without a gentle push through social media and websites. What it takes to make a viral campaign may be an inexpensive camera, a mobile camera, or an audio recording device. For shooting real-life situations, intimate moments, surprises, and shock — what it requires is the presence of mind of the observer.
Buzz marketing and viral marketing require great creative inputs rather than monetary inputs, as the message is very important. It should be broad-based on demographic profile- age group, income, social status, lifestyle, aspirations, and so on. SAMSUNG putting LED lights into sheep and creating works of art attracted millions of views and helped in brand building. A wrongly targeted campaign can misfire and do no good to the band intended to be promoted.
More importantly, buzz marketing and viral campaigns can succeed only if it has news value. When something unique is featured on TV, in newspapers, and online, the brand unknowingly gets imprinted in the consumer psyche. Corporates can have word-of-mouth marketing as a strategy along with traditional media campaigns for greater impact. For example, initial branding can be through mass media and brand building through buzz marketing or viral campaigns.
Even big trans-global firms could succeed in only one or two campaigns achieving a 20% success rate, while the majority of the videos went unnoticed. A complex mixture of factors and variables outlined above are at work, and one can always get some clues from the success stories in viral.
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