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It’s a NEW form … of old advertising. 300-thousand volunteers chat-up products & services they like. Hear why clients are paying a Boston agency millions for word-of-mouth marketing.

What they do:
Word of mouth marketing campaigns.

Using the premise that people look to friends, neighbors and strangers for recommendations — before buying – marketer David Balter went back to the basics.

About the business:
BzzAgent Volunteers are given products free in exchange for writing reviews, and talking up products to the people around them. BzzAgent Inc. does grass roots marketing a variety of Fortune 500 companies. Sales: $10 Million+.

Word of mouth is more powerful than advertising – but here’s a man who made word-of-mouth profitable!

Most of us grew up watching TV advertising where actors praise products and services. But despite TV’s pervasiveness, most of us trust “word of mouth” — the recommendations of friends and acquaintances — more.

David Balter knew this. A decade ago he set out to do something most advertising people though impossible – monetize “word of mouth” to make it profitable for clients.

What Balter did was pioneer Buzz Marketing – an informal word-of-mouth process where people known as “influencers” informally spread the word about products, services or ideas they like. In the old days, word-of-mouth only worked well with small, highly defined audiences. As such it had limited appeal to advertisers. But a little thing called the Internet changed all that. It gave “buzz” enormous economies of scale.

Today marketers do Buzz Marketing via Facebook, chat rooms, blogs, instant messaging and Twitter. Essentially information technology has made Buzz Marketing incredibly easier — and it’s quickly become a standard component of integrated marketing campaigns.

All that was just beginning in 2001. That’s when Balter founded BzzAgent – a Boston based company that rewards people for honestly chatting up new products and services they like. Using the Internet, Balter built up a huge network — 300,000 volunteers from all walks of life, including Fortune 500 CEOs. He harnessed them to talk up offerings from his clients – something that attracted the attention of conventional Ad agencies like Interpublic — which entered into an agreement with him to work on behalf of its clients.

How does it work? An animated video on BzzAgent’s website explains the process in detail for clients.


But in a nutshell it’s “Try it” and “Talk about it, naturally.” By naturally BzzAgent means honestly. The company’s Code of Conduct encourages participants to “Be proud to be a BzzAgent.” And …

“When Bzzing others, you must let them know that you’re involved with BzzAgent and tell them what you received as part of the campaign. If you genuinely like something (or even if you don’t), it’s your open, honest opinion that counts.”

Potential “BzzAgents” submit a questionnaire and train on buzz-creating strategies. Then BzzAgent gives them access to a client’s product or service. Participants test out everything — from candy to satellite radio — and chat them up to friends, neighbors and strangers.

No money changes hands. And agents can keep the products they try – but only if they file detailed online reports on their “Bzzing.”

So is this word of mouth advertising really profitable? Ask clients like Coke, Disney, Chrysler and Apple Computer, and they’ve paid the company upwards of $10 million annually for its services. And BzzAgent is very open about what it’s doing for whom. Its website hosts scores of case histories reveal its clients, and their goals, strategies and results.

All of which support BzzAgent’s description fo itself: “A social marketing machine…with a decade-long record of creating buzz and turning it into real dollars and cents.”

David Balter exemplifies a Why Didn’t I Think of That? Axiom: Solve a Problem within your Profession. This Ad man thought outside the box, and did the impossible – he made word of mouth marketing profitable.

Now, why didn’t I Think of That?


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