Have You Heard the One About the Emperor and his New Clothes?

See, the Emperor knew some tailors. They created artificial buzz. It worked for a little while, but then it fell apart. There was a backlash, as sometimes happens in these situations. I don’t want you to create artificial buzz. I want you to create real, organic, oh-my-gosh-I-love-their-stuff buzz, the kind that often starts small, grows, and lasts, but yes—you can learn how from a guy who engineers buzz for a living.

On Tuesday I said that Dave Balter does not want to sell his book. The secret, you know now, is that he wants people to talk about his business. Why? Talking about BzzAgent demonstrates his firm’s skill at doing what they promise to do—creating buzz. Without forcing anyone to buy a thing.

How can you steal this secret?

You don’t produce Word-of-Mouth for a living. So don’t worry, you don’t have to get Seth Godin to talk about you.

What does your firm promise to do?

Make a better muffin?

Write thrilling ad copy?

Get carpets so clean you could eat off ‘em?

Give kids an awesome month of summer camp?

Okay, take a deep breath

Give it away.

The stakes for you are not like for Dave Balter’s company, so you are not going to give away the whole summer break. Give away a day at your camp.

Give away a muffin to every newcomer (Put up a nice “Just Ask” sign).

Give away the cow.

Write a blog.  🙂

Be like Radiohead, and Prince. They gave away albums (cheap), and gained fans who came to their concerts (expensive).

It’s called sampling, and when you give away a taste, you demonstrate your skills—without forcing anyone to buy a thing.

You can do it spontaneously. The muffin folks can put that sign up tomorrow. As your at-large Experience Designer, I’d like to recommend that you find ways to start your own Bzz. Write a press release. You can do this yourself, or you can have help with your press release—it won’t cost an arm and a leg.

Take out an ad. Get interviewed by your local paper. TALK IT UP. If you’ve still got Secret Business Syndrome, for goodness’ sake, get over it! Tell your staff to talk it up. Tell your letter carrier. Tell your mother.

You want to demonstrate your firm’s skill at doing what you promise to do, to as wide an audience as possible. Blow your own horn.

What was I sampling when I downloaded The Word of Mouth Manual? Not Dave Balter’s writing (which to keep my Perspective fresh, I have not yet read). Not Dave’s point-of-view. Remember, it’s not about the book. I sampled Dave’s ability to get people talking about Dave.

Including me. ‘Cause I just did. Twice.

And that, folks, is why I’m floored by his brilliance. Because I read umpteen reviews of his book in the last week-and-a-half, and it’s not about his book.

Can I tell you another secret? If the Emperor knew Dave Balter, he’d still be wearing his New Clothes, and everybody would be talking about how lovely they are. Dave Balter would have talked the little boy into being a BzzAgent.

What ingenious sampling have you heard about through Word-of-Mouth—and can you make that idea work for you?

How would you steal Dave Balter’s secret?


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson