Buzz Marketing Ninjas

The Book Marketing Tip for November 30, 2014:

The surprise and precision of Buzz Marketing beats saturation marketing, when it comes to the selling of books.

Statue in Times Square

It’s the quiet message that seizes your audience’s attention.

What I dread most about opening Twitter or FaceBook or GooglePlus or any of the other popular social media sites is the relentless flow of “Buy My Book” postings. It’s a mess, and none of it works. These little ads that scream at us over and over never convince us to read a book. In fact, they probably convince us to run the other way.

But mostly, we tune them out.

Why? The human brain is an uncanny wonder. It is built to focus only on those things that are important, and to ignore everything that isn’t. A tiger in a bush, that’s important. The wind in the trees, that’s not.

Thus, eons of evolution have trained us to look for changes, things not normal, and dangers that lurk hidden in the dark. And it has also taught us not to waste our precious attention on anything that we know is irrelevant, even when it is omnipresent.

Advertising is one of those things that we have come to understand as both omnipresent and irrelevant. Worse, we see it as an intrusion of our time and our attention. It is best left ignored.

Advertisers know this. We fast-forward through the commercials, they place product in the story we are watching. We look away from the billboard, the truck stopping short ahead of us is painted with an ad. As we work to ignore the ads, the advertisers fight to grab our attention.

We consumers keep winning the fight. We quickly learn the new marketing tactics, and quickly take action to neutralize them. We gloss over those promo tweets authors so like to post, and it has become nothing more than the wind in the trees.

Because this still does not stop the relentless marketeers, the human mind goes one step farther. Consumers have built-in marketing radar that tells them in advance if something is going to be marketing-related, even when the marketing tactic is being used for the first time. Thus, even the most ingenious of mass marketing is destined to fail, or at least live with the usual less-than-one-percent response rate.

However, buzz marketers outsmart the mind’s marketing radar. Buzz, by definition, is what everyone listens to, responds to and shares. It works, and it works because it works through surprise and through targeted precision. It’s not everywhere. In fact, it appears to come out of nowhere. Buzz marketing is not programmed because it seems spontaneous. Buzz marketing does not interrupt because it seems to be part of the conversation that is not to be interrupted in the first place.

Buzz marketing, to twist an analogy to my will, is the ninja of marketing. The consumer cannot see it coming, but, in the end, must interact with the marketing message and make a buy-or-ignore decision in front of others whose valued opinion is “buy.” This is secret marketing through peer pressure.

Most books are bought and sold based on word-of-mouth recommendations. Word-of-mouth is a misnomer; the recommendations can be in print, online, verbal or even inferred in body language or via “product placement” on coffee tables. But in any event, it’s downright sneaky, and it’s welcomed by its audience.

When the marketeer focuses the marketing message at key opinion leaders, usually through free sampling, and then those opinion leaders turn around and give their recommendations to their platforms, it sounds more like valuable information, not marketing. The marketeer’s presence is not felt, nor seen, nor even smelled. As the leaders’ followers enter the conversation and are observed buying and reading the book, others perceive a trend. Everyone is reading it, so it must be good, and besides, who wants to be the one who hasn’t read what everyone else is talking about?

Buzz marketing works so well because people believe that marketeers cannot control what people are going to say about a product, or which topics they are going to choose to discuss. It is this same belief that keeps many authors and publishers from trying buzz marketing. Free will and the consumers own words are beyond the reach of the evil marketeers, or so everyone believes.

Thus, when people receive the buzz-marketing message, they feel they have found a delightful surprise, a true and meaningful recommendation that warrants taking note, rushing to the store, and then picking the book out of the sea of titles on Amazon or the ranges of shelves of Barnes & Noble.

Buzz marketing is a sneak attack, and it’s invisible. Even when consumers figure it out, they are unable to tune it out, because it piggybacks on the very community those consumers use to find the tigers in the bushes. To turn the message off, the network must be ignored, and this goes against the eons of evolution that would otherwise work against the common advertiser.

Also, when it comes to books, there is a double surprise. Once a consumer reads the book, the author becomes part of that very network, becomes one of the major opinion leaders for that very reader. Now, the author has direct access to the fans, to insert and shape the marketing messages for this and other books, and in fact, the author becomes one of the opinion leaders who control the broadcasting of those messages.

What type of ninja buzz marketing has had the most influence on you or your audience?

(Photo credit: Times Square, provided by Tom Magliery on Flickr via photopin cc)

About David Rozansky

Publisher of Flying Pen Press; Author's Business Manager; Author of Fishnets & Platforms: The Writers Guide to Whoring Your Book; Aviator; Author; Adventurer.
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