The Not So Hidden Persuaders
Five years from now as you flip through your mental Rolodex of brands deciding which product to pitch your friend, it won't be too surprising when your friend shoots back with, "Oh, but you've gotta check this thing out!" And the two of you will engage as if you were Pepsi and Coke in a boxing ring. This past weekend's New York Time Magazine contained an article on the growth of buzz/word-of-mouth marketing and featured Boston's BzzAgent, a company similar to P & G's Tremor, which recruits "agents" to promote products through personal networks. The premise of buzz marketing calls for the identification of people who are well connected, have a desire to be ahead of the cultural curve and who are willing to talk about a product - a lot. These people are then recruited to spread the word throughout their personal networks.
Importantly, many recruits (particularly those of BzzAgent's) are not paid. They receive nothing more than early trial of products and guidelines on how to talk up the brand. While many disclosure and transparency issues swirl around growing word of mouth marketing segment, BzzAgent has seen great success with its business model. So if you live in the suburbs and one day your neighbor says to you, "My lawn tractor is better than yours," be sure you've "connected" so you can shoot back with, "But wait, my power drill is much bigger than yours!"
UPDATE: A Boston Herald writer wonders, in this world of growing word of mouth marketing, if she can now trust anything her husband says,