Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Catalysts of Buzz: Ideas vs. Execution

(I'm taking advantage of the slow holiday week to migrate a few things from the noteblog to the real blog.)

It is nearly impossible to predict whether or not a particular message will spread via word-of-mouth. Some great notions and campaigns fall absolutely flat, while simple little concepts seem to capture the planet's attention in a flash. But word-of-mouth and buzz is fast becoming a core part of many company's marketing strategies, and--as such--it requires a level of rigor.

To reach this level of rigor, we have to first separate idea from execution. The idea is the core concept that the creator is seeking to place inside of a person's mind and awareness. The execution is the actual carrier of that idea. Traditionally, the idea-carrier has been an ad of some kind, but the marketing department is beginning to get over that fixation. Today, there is a real focus on the product itself, and often its design and delivery, as the idea-carrier. For example, the idea of the iPod is "music, elegantly delivered". The idea-carrier is the device itself and its interface.

For the next several blog posts, I want to explore the idea part of the equation. While the execution may have more to do with whether or not an idea buzzes, it is the idea that is the critical element. Much discussion and writing about buzz and word-of-mouth has focused on the execution--partly because it is more fun to discuss and look at. But that ultimately doesn't give you a lot of guidance, other than to copy an execution: anathema to a creative soul.

So instead, I will outline what catalyzes a buzz-able idea. There are four categories of these Buzz Catalysts: Simpatico, Surprise, Doubt and Obscurity. Ideas that spread virally and generate buzz have at least one of these qualities.
Save This Page