Exhale Creativity: Inhale Buzz

by Donna Fontenot September 28th, 2009 

Sometimes you jut get lucky and buzz spreads about your company, product, or service seemingly out of thin air. While it's truly exciting when that happens, I wouldn't sit around waiting for it. Sometimes you have to make your own luck.

Wow Buzz usually requires an excellent product or service that just knocks the socks right off everyone. If yours can generate that WOW factor simply because it is so great and solves a problem that everyone has, then you're definitely ahead of the game. However, even WOW products can be overlooked in the daily stream of our lives. That's when you need to help get the buzz started, and creativity is the best way to make that happen.

Dig deep inside your creative well and pull out a really creative idea. Then watch as that creativity sparks the buzz that enables you to capitalize on the generated excitement over your product or service.

So what are the general steps for going from creative idea to generating buzz?

It Begins With The Idea

lightbulb idea Of course, it all begins with your creative idea. You need to either come up with that idea yourself, or get others to help you brainstorm for one. Remember that you don't necessarily have to have a completely unique idea. Rather than reinventing the wheel, consider just applying a new fresh take on one that's been done by others in the past. If it worked for them, then a little shine and polish to make it new and fresh could be all you need to make it work for you as well. We'll look at an example of putting a creative twist on an old idea in a moment.

Know Your Audience – Know Your Performers

Two types of people will be involved in most creative buzz campaigns – the performers and the audience. In some cases, the performers are all bundled into one person (you). In most cases, the performers will be the buzz starters and influencers; usually bloggers. The audience consists of the people who will market your product or service for you by talking about it, sharing it, linking to it, and promoting it.

performance

Start with a focus on your audience. If you know who they are (as a group), you will find it easier to locate the performers and influencers that they connect with and listen to. Which bloggers have the most influence over your audience?

One note: Don't concentrate solely on the top influencers. While it's great to be able to snag a top blogger as a performer in your campaign, it can be difficult to compete for the attention of most of them. Any contact you have with them may go unnoticed. It's often easier and more productive to recruit a larger number of second-tier influencers to participate in your buzz campaign than it is to attract the attention of the top-tier bloggers in your niche.

Contact Bloggers Via Email

Once you find the bloggers and influencers who have a direct impact upon your audience, contact them about your idea. Let them know that you are launching a campaign that is going to be fun and interesting, and you hope that they might consider participating as well. You may need to provide some form of incentive to get them to participate, but don't assume that it has to be in the form of monetary compensation. You may be able to persuade them simply by listing some solid benefits, such as:

  • Providing them with a fresh new idea for a blog post
  • Giving them a chance to flex their own creative muscles
  • Letting them connect with their readers in a fun new way

Example Creative Idea

I promised I'd give you an example of putting a new spin on a well-known idea. In this case, let's consider the online contest. Everyone loves the chance to win something. Contests are very popular online, but some of the tried-and-true methods of holding contests are beginning to wear thin.

  • Don't just copy what others are doing.
  • Don't just tell bloggers to tweet about your contest for a chance to win.
  • Don't just tell bloggers to write a blog post about your contest to get extra chances to win.

Although these methods are easy, it's not fun and it's not exciting. Their followers don't really want to read a tired old tweet or post about a contest. While they may be interested in winning, they are actually more interested in something else – making good use of their time. Don't waste their time. Give both groups of people (performers (bloggers/influencers) and the audience (readers/followers)) a chance to have a few moments of entertainment. Performers need to enjoy participating in the contest. Audiences need to enjoy reading about their participation, and enjoy the experience themselves.

happy winner

This means that there needs to be two levels of contest participation.

1. Bloggers/influencers compete at one level.
2. Audience/followers compete and/or participate at another level.

Any number of creative ideas can be thought of to make that happen. Here's one. You can come up with many more on your own.

Create a "write a fairy tale or story" contest centered around a photo, graphic, or cartoon. This image will have some direct connection to the product or service you are promoting. Let's say you sell a product that prevents chopped onions from making people cry. Either draw or hire someone to draw a cartoon involving onions and tears. Do not include any text with the image. Give enough leeway to allow people to come up with their own ideas on how to caption / write a story around the image for themselves.

The first level of participation involves the bloggers and influencers. Their goal is to write a post that is fun and creative – one that spins a fairy tale or story around the image. The key here will be to make sure the blogger understands there's only one rule. They need to end up with a fun "moral of the story" at the end, and the moral needs to involve your product or service in some way. That moral should also link to either your product page or your product's facebook page or similar social page.

fairytale

The second level of participation involves the audience (the bloggers' followers). Their goal is to be one of the judges who will determine the winner. To keep things fair, the users are only one part of the judging committee. This way, one influencer isn't able to completely dominate the results based on number of followers. But of course, we want the influencers to feel as though their level of influence has some impact, and we want their followers to know that their loyalty is useful. So do encourage the bloggers to ask their followers for their support.

Generating Excitement

Once you have the contest idea in place, and have gathered the support of your performers, you need to give the best chance possible of generating excitement around the campaign. You can do this with a little well-placed name-dropping. If possible, arrange to have the entries judged by a committee of 3 well-known people (they don't have to be stars – even extremely minor celebs in the niche would work), with the fourth judge being you, and the fifth judge being the audience (the followers of the bloggers) who will vote. As mentioned earlier, the audience gets to be involved, but they aren't the only vote, so gaming the system won't be a huge problem. And by using celebrity judges that the audience is familiar with, you ensure an extra level of interest.

judges panel

Of course, another way to generate excitement involves the contest prizes themselves. You'll want to make sure that there are at least two prizes – one for the winning blogger and one for a randomly-chosen winner from the voting audience. Both groups need that extra incentive to ensure they participate. Prizes should be interesting, but they don't necessarily have to be costly. Ideally, your product or service should be a prize. If what you offer can be given away, and it is something that is worth competing for, then you have an ideal prize to give. If that's not possible, then feel free to come up with anything you think will be of interest. I'll leave that creative process to you. Just make sure that both groups of participants have a chance to win something. Then make sure the process (fun creative writing, interesting witty stories to read) is worth the time of both the performers and audience.

With a little creativity, a lot of buzz can be generated. Creativity + Buzz = Interest, Links, and Sales

For more creative ideas on generating buzz for your site, consider hiring me as your coach. Get more information at ebuzzcoach.com

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