Thursday, November 17, 2005

Tom Hespos Makes No Sense.

The namesake of the snarky headline has written an article for MediaPost titled, Buzz Marketing Makes No Sense (free reg. req'd). Noting the title, I expected a humor piece. Alas.

It begins thusly:
IF THERE'S SOMETHING MORE TO this notion of "buzz marketing" that [sic] what I've already heard, someone needs to spell it out for me. It sounds to me like a recipe for disaster.
Let me finish this train of thought for him: "And what's with the kids today and their crazy 'rap' music? I can't even understand the words! By gum, the missus and I were sharing a phosphate down at the five and dime when a group of ne'er-do-wells sidled up with their Snoop Doggy Doggy, Mr. Fifty Cents and what-not. Tarnation, that was an infernal racket! I had half a mind to scoot the li'l shavers to my Edison Cylinder for the J.P. Sousa oeuvre. That would teach the rapscallions about music proper, by Jove!"

Now, I don't know Hespos from Adam, but from the sneering tone of his piece I doubt he'd mind a little snark on this humble blog. Nevertheless, the article is gobsmackingly ill-considered, not even fathoming the difference between buzz, stealth and WOMM.

Make sure you visit the Spin Board link following the screed since it contains wise retorts by Andy Sernovitz and Joe Chernov. Unsurprisingly, their calm appeals fall on the unlistening ears of the author and his devotees.

With all the available books and ground-breaking research, I often feel behind the curve in the WOMM revolution. However, threads like Hespos' assure me of gainful employment for the rest of my marketing career.

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Blogger Tom said...

Did you read the second page of the thread? The post where I clarified that my stance is against incentivized "agents" and not word of mouth marketing in general?

8:04 AM  
Blogger inkling said...


First off, thank you for stopping by. No, I did not see that response – I was unaware that there was a second page of comments. For all twelve of my readers (no, I’m not counting you Mom), here’s the link to that page. There you state:
I think I was pretty clear that I wasn't dissing the whole notion of Word of Mouth. It's the compensated agents (disclosed or non-disclosed) that I think are problematic. Organic buzz is great and should be encouraged.

I think the best response is actually Andy Sernovitz’s comment that appears immediately above it:

This whole discussion is missing the point. The headline was "Buzz Marketing Makes No Sense." So, before we knock it, let's understand it.

Word-of-mouth / buzz marketing isn't about "incentivized advocates". That's one tiny niche technique.

That's like saying "internet marketing" is about "120x60 sidebar buttons".

Word of mouth is the science of earning customer respect and making it easier for them to tell their friends. It includes doezens of customer-focused techniques.

Everyone should learn how to do word of mouth the right way - based on a foundation of ethical marketing, customer respect, and measurable ROI.

I agree completely. In your original article -- what my post was based on -- you do impugn all “buzz marketing.” I’m glad that you take that back at the end of the comments section, but that is a huge reversal. Sure it is a semantic point, but words mean things. I’m not going to criticize vote fraud by saying “Elections Make No Sense”.

Using part of a marketing budget to openly enhance WOM or Buzz is just sound business. Stealth Marketing is a horrible practice that might provide a temporary sales blip, but ultimately will build more hostility than devotion for a product. You and I completely agree on that point. Thank you for the clarification.


9:45 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

One thing that bugs me is that there seems to be this disagreement on the semantics. Some people believe that "buzz marketing" refers to the tactic of using agents. Other folks think it means the entire Word of Mouth Marketing category. Based on the responses I've seen, both in the thread and in the blogosphere, no one seems to agree.

So if I gave anyone the impression that I was against ALL word of mouth marketing, then I apologize. That was not the intent.

One of the things we need to work on in this category is a consistent set of definitions so that we're all on the same page.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Olivier Blanchard said...

Once again, if we spent more time helping our clients design better products and connect better with their fans, we wouldn't have to spend so much time arguing about how to be ethical about spreading the good word.

11:41 PM  
Blogger inkling said...

Great point, Olivier.

10:11 AM  

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