Tuesday April 14, 2009
Jane Sunley - Managing Director
No one who witnessed the funeral of Jade goody on TV yesterday could fail to have been moved by the sheer emotion of it all. Maybe you were one of the thousands clapping and throwing flowers along on the way as the funeral corsage made its way from Jade's original home of Bermonsey to the church in Buckhurst Hill, Essex where the service was held. It was a poignant and grand affair, that could be likened to a state funeral. People had come from all over the world to pay their respects and one woman walked 17 miles to be there. Max Clifford, Jade's publicist, said he'd been giving 50-60 interviews a day to media from as far afield as Australia and even Saudi Arabia. As one of the flower tributes, in the shape of a jar of Marmite, so openly attested - you either loved or hated Jade. Whatever your feelings, you have to admit that this was a girl who certainly created a buzz.
According to medical researchers more and more young athletes are taking potentially harmful performance-enhancing drugs in order to excel and become known for their success. Education online reported that when college students in a recent survey were asked 'If you knew you'd win or make the first team by taking steroids but in five years you'd become ill, would you still do it?' almost all said yes. When the question was changed to - 'if you knew you would die within five years', 65% still said yes.
People can create a buzz, though, without charting their lives through the media or risking their health to succeed. Mo Mowlem, who also tragically died of cancer, in 2005, is a great example of how a subtle, gradual approach can really create a buzz. When she visited a building as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland she would go up to the receptionist first and say, 'Hello, I'm Mo Mowlem, who are you?' And later, she would write down their name. The next time she went back to the same place she would go to reception and say, 'Hello, I'm Mo' and the receptionist would say 'Hello, I'm Joan.' So Mo would say, 'Isn't Muriel on today?' Those things matter and made people tell stories - this sort of stuff spreads. Imagine what would happen if you created a story about yourself every day...
I attended a lunch on Friday and someone I barely knew came up to me and asked 'Why is it that so many people talk about you? You're everywhere, how do you do it'. Thankfully, he was referring to our businesses and not me personally though I was pleased that our approach of living our values, having exciting products and talking about what we do, are making people talk about us. We are creating a buzz.
Word of mouth is a low cost yet very powerful marketing tool. It is an inertia that works well for us yet so few business people seem to know about it.
In a world where potential purchasers are bombarded with messages and approaches, people don't know who to trust any more. So they turn to people they do trust - family, friends, colleagues and business contacts. When buying a new TV, for example, we're more likely to ask others and look up user reviews on the net than to take the seller's word for it that this is the one to go for.
It stands to reason that the more people you can have knowing about you and your products and talking to others about them, the more successful you will be. If you have exciting products, it's obviously a great advantage when it comes to creating a buzz. If not, then be sure talk to people about it (every day). Find what business guru Seth Godin refers to as 'sneezers' ; people who will 'sneeze' your message out to many others; influencers, opinion leaders, credible people who know a lot of others, people who are listened to. You control what you communicate so make sure you get your messages right.
Do kind things every day, in helping others you are creating a buzz. People always tell others when someone has helped them in some way.
You can also take every opportunity to talk at conferences, meetings, ask questions at public gatherings and also to everyone you meet (without becoming that thoroughly annoying person one sits next to on a plane). It is possible to generate media coverage without paying for advertising or PR. If you have something interesting to say and are not just trying to advertise your product, you will be able to generate media coverage if you go for it and contact the right people.
Creating a buzz - it's a fun and powerful way to promote what you do - why not start today?