The Japanese have a word for it — Otaku.*
But the closest thing we have in English is Brand Evangelist.
The term that best describes the subcultures who have the ability to make word of mouth ideas go viral, is the Buzz Evangelist.
I’m here to talk about buzz evangelism and how to wield it to your advantage, but before I do, I have a sad story to tell you.
A man named Otto Rohwedder was sitting on his living room couch, doing everything he could to suppress the violent impulse to jump up and scream his lungs out.
He was happy, and excited.
Because he’d invented the greatest thing since… well he didn’t know what, but he had invented a thing called sliced bread, and he was thrilled.
The happy part is that it was a great thing.
The sad part was that nobody cared.
Otto couldn’t get his idea off its feet because he didn’t know what people cared about; what they obsessed about.
Slicing bread was a Wonder Bread afterthought that only took off after a small subculture in France became obsessed with the idea.
Because of the subculture of obsession, the idea spread, and now, it’s almost impossible to imagine a PBJ sandwich with unsliced bread.
When a group of people obsessed enough about an idea to not only talk about it, but come together to rave about it; people who develop entire communities around it — that’s buzz evangelism.
What Happens When we Harness the Power of Buzz Evangelism in Our Marketing?
My question is, what would have happened if Otto knew where to find that obsessive group of French?
Perhaps Rohwedder Bread would be a household name instead of Wonder Bread.
What makes Americans obsess over hot sauce, while nobody obsesses over mayonnaise, ketchup, relish or mustard?
In Japan, they have clubs and groups of people who are obsessed with Ramen noodles and Manga.
In India, many people obsess over cricket, a sport that inspires a contagious epidemic of Pavlovian yawning amongst most Americans.
And speaking of “one man’s yawn-inducer is another’s treasure,” apparently the vast majority of Russia is obsessed with mayonnaise.*
This is what we get when we understand obsession and learn to convert it into viral word of mouth:
Massive, uncontained, relentless mobs of buzz evangelists who spread your product or service virally via word of mouth — for no cost whatsoever.
That’s why I believe that this is the most effective marketing strategy that exists.
Where are the Buzz Evangelists?
This is a holy grail of a marketing question.
Most business owners ask themselves the most vital question: Who cares?
Who cares about this product or service enough to talk about it?
It’s an essential word of mouth marketing question that demands an answer, because without that answer, you’re going to get stinky hands.
Because you’re “up a crap creek without a paddle,” as my inbred neighbors like to say.
Sadly, most people fail to find the answer.
And that’s why I’m devoting a beefy chunk of this article to exactly that.
Where are your Buzz Evangelists?
I can’t give you ultra-specifics, because that would take weeks, but I CAN tell you where people meet to obsess over their obsessions.
Forums can be used to create a whirlwind of a buzz surrounding your brand. A good example of this is the Warrior Forum — the first forum a digital marketer should develop a presence on, thanks to the swarms of novice marketers who gather there and obsess over the latest marketing methods.
Of course realtors, lawyers and many other business professionals flock to these types of forums too, because without marketing, their skills are useless.
When you blog, what’s the first thing you do? You write. Writing is one of the best ways to deliver a viral buzz bug to a pack of rabid buzz evangelists. Read about the posts that went viral and why — at the bottom of all those reasons you’ll always find a small group of grinning imps with big mouths and calloused fingers — convince a small mob of these keyboard tapping evangelists and your buzz will travel across the expanse of the internet.
Much like forums, webinars give our buzz creators a platform to meet and talk. The more they meet and talk about you, the more viral you get. It’s that simple.
We need to get obsessed too. About conventions. I can’t stress this enough — conventions are roots that give life to the tree of word of mouth advertising. People talk about conventions, not only while they’re at the convention — they’ll be blabbering about it for weeks after.
I feel like some people don’t really understand the power behind these monolithic, buzz-marketing meeting places.
Here’s a list of conventions types that regularly attract fanatic buzz evangelists:
25. Anime Conventions
24. Sci-Fi Conventions
23. Gaming Conventions
22. Comic Book Conventions
21. Furry Conventions
20. Horror Conventions
19. Book and Literature Conventions
18. Steampunk Conventions
17. Art Fairs and Conventions
16. Trade Shows
15. Gun Shows
14. Hobby Workshops and Conventions
Those are the types of conventions most people think of when they think of fanatical zeal.
But did you know that there’s people who are every bit as obsessed with real estate? Small business? Lawn care? Insurance — yes, there are even people who obsess over insurance.
Business Professional Buzz Evangelists
This is where you find business professional buzz evangelists (and many others):
13. Shareholder Meetings
12. Board Meetings
8. Business Dinners and Banquets
7. Consumer Shows
5. B2B Exhibitions
4. Green Meetings
3. Networking Events
Bonus Conventions and Meetups:
MTG Gatherings. That’s Magic the Gathering in case you didn’t know. How do you market anything to these crazies except MTG cards and dragon posters? You don’t. I just included that in case you sold stuff like that.
LARPing. Live Action Role Playing contains a subculture of fanatics who said “@#$% World of Warcraft, let’s do this for realz. Again only relevant if you distribute related materials and dragon posters.
The Key to Viral-Buzz, Word of Mouth Marketing
The key that’ll unlock a viral buzz about your business is your Buzz Evangelist strategy — and failing at it…
…until you succeed.
How will you collect the hangouts and meetups most relevant to your business?
What can you give them that’ll get them talking about you?
How do you infiltrate the “inner circle” to begin with?
I’ll answer these questions and more next week.
*The sliced bread story is the extra background from Seth Godin’s Wonder Bread story.