How to Use Buzz Marketing to Turbocharge Your Content Marketing

June 13, 2012

A lot of people think that generating buzz for a business is hit or miss. They believe that sometimes you get lucky and it happens, but most of the time you don’t.

But if you read Buzzmarketing by Mark Hughes, you’ll learn that there’s a lot more to generating buzz than occasionally getting lucky. There’s a science to effective, word-of-mouth-generating, buzz marketing. Not only is it a science, but there are also principles that businesses can follow in order to generate more buzz which ultimately leads to more customers and more sales.

So what exactly is buzz marketing, and how can you apply it to turbocharge your content marketing?

An Introduction to Buzz Marketing

The basic idea behind buzz marketing is that businesses should attempt to do more than advertise their product or service. Instead, businesses should focus on marketing activities that get people talking about their product or service.

With a regular advertisements, you only benefit from the people who see your ad. Thus, if 1,000 people walk by and read an ad on the subway, for example, then 1,000 more people know that your business exists.

But with buzz marketing, every person who sees an ad or promotion tells other people about your business. Let’s say each person on average tells 5 other people. In this scenario, for each 1,000 people who see your ad, 5,000 people find out about your business because each person who saw the ad told 5 of their friends.

So how do you get to this next level? How do you get people talking about your business and not just learning about it themselves?

Enter the Six Buttons of Buzz Marketing

This is where Mark Hughes, author of Buzzmarketing, introduces the six buttons of buzz. By using these buttons, you can get people talking about your brand or business. Here’s what Mark Hughes has to say about it:

“Creating buzz sounds very tough. But it can be easy if you know which buttons to push. Time and time again, these six things push people’s buttons and start conversations.” Buzzmarketing, p. 29

So what are these six buttons of buzz? Here they are:

  1. The taboo
  2. The unusual
  3. The outrageous
  4. The hilarious
  5. The remarkable
  6. The secrets (both kept and revealed)

By learning how to use these buttons, you’ll be on your way to creating more buzz.

Applying Buzz Marketing Principles to Content Marketing

When it comes to content marketing, pushing these six buttons will get more people to talk about and share your content. If you’re interested in turbocharging your content marketing efforts, you first need to understand how each button works. Then, you need to know how to apply them. The following points will do both while also providing examples of content marketing that employs each of these buzz buttons.

1. The Taboo
How it works: Apparently, people like to talk about things that are taboo, i.e. ideas that are controversial and that they’re not supposed to talk about. The unfortunate implication with this point is that people like to talk about things like lies and bathroom humor. The example given in the book is related to parents of young children at a dinner party talking about doo-doo and diapers. It’s a taboo topic, and parents often can’t stay away from it.

How to apply: The point here is that when you talk about something you’re not supposed to talk about, you’ll likely get people’s attention. The easiest way to do this is to talk about something controversial. These types of topics get peoples’ attention and get them talking about your business. If you decide that this button is right for your business (and it’s not the right button for everyone), talking about taboo topics will definitely create buzz and excitement.

Example(s): The following two posts from Copyblogger are examples of taboo content-marketing topics - 21 Warning Signs Your Becoming a Social Media Snob and Are Social Media Experts Worthless? Both of them talk about social media in a controversial way, sparking a discussion that people want to read, share, and talk about.

2. The Unusual
How it works: Another button that can be pushed is the unusual button. Whenever you push this button, you stand out from the crowd because you’re doing something different than everyone else. Anything that is unusual will get people’s attention and get people talking about your product.

How to apply: For content marketing, you want to do something unusual, i.e. you want to do something unique. You don’t want to just do what everyone else is doing. If all of your competitors are writing blog posts, create some videos. If everyone is creating videos, do a series of videos with industry experts. Whatever you can do that is different from your competitors will cause you to stand out from the crowd. Remember, it’s ok to be unusual, and you’re always encouraged to be unique.

Example(s): This post is a good example of doing something unusual or unique. While everyone else is talking about 10 Ways to Get More Twitter Followers, this post stands out by applying the principles of buzz marketing to content marketing. Copyblogger also does a great job pushing this button by writing posts with fascinating and unique titles. Examples include: The Eminem Guide to Becoming a Writing and Marketing Machine and The Inigo Montoya Guide to 27 Commonly Misused Words.

3. Outrageous
How it works: The next button to push is the outrageous button. If you do something outrageous, you’re sure to get people’s attention. In his book, Mark Hughes gives an example of paying to re-name a town as a marketing stunt for the launching of It worked, the town changed its name, and news outlets couldn’t stop talking about, both the city and the website. It was so outrageous, people had to talk about it.

How to apply: In order to apply this button, you need to do so out of the ordinary, that it gets people’s attention. By doing something highly unusual or unconventional, you’ll get customers’ (and sometimes the media’s) attention.

Example(s): A great example of doing something outrageous is the Swagger Wagon video by Toyota. It’s so unusual to have a rap video about a mini-van that people shared the video to the tune of 10,594,000 views and counting. How’s that for turbocharged content marketing?

4. Hilarious
How it works: People can rarely pass up the opportunity to share something hilarious, and this is probably the number one type of content that goes viral. Whether it’s a funny skit from a comedian, or a video of someone doing something embarrassing, hilarious content spreads quickly.

How to apply: Even though it’s not easy for a lot of businesses to do, creating content that gets people to laugh can be a good way to spread your message. When people laugh about something, they want to share it with their friends, ultimately spreading the message about your business.

Example(s): Sometime last year, four professional golfers created a music video for Farmers Insurance. The video was so hilarious that it went viral with 4,682,259 views at the time this post was written. If this was a regular commercial, nobody would tell their friends about it. Instead, since it was a hilarious video of professional golfers, people couldn’t resist sharing it. Who reaped the benefit? Farmers Insurance did.

5. Remarkable
How it works: People like to share things that are remarkable. If content is average, then it’s not as likely to get shared. When it comes to creating content, taking the time to do something remarkable pays dividends.

How to apply: If you have some interesting statistics about your industry, instead of writing a blog post about it, take some time to create an infographic. Not only are infographics unique, but they’re also remarkable because they’re visually appealing and present statistics and facts in a helpful way. The extra effort to turn stats and facts into an infographic makes them remarkable and shareable. This can be applied to any kind of content. If you write a post in under an hour, it’s probably not remarkable. But if you take three hours to write and re-write a post, there’s a greater likelihood that it will stand out from the crowd of average content.

Example(s): Creating useful infographics like the ones on the KISSmetrics blog is one way to create something remarkable that stands out from the crowd. Another way is to write in-depth posts that are full of helpful content. Here are some examples: The Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing and 38 Critical Books Every Blogger Needs to Read.

6. Secrets
How it works: People are always interested in secrets. They want to learn about them, and they want to talk about them. According to Buzzmarketing, people are interested in secrets that are kept and secrets that are revealed.

How to apply: One way to apply this principle is to give customers a behind-the-scenes look at your business. You can provide a view of your business that they wouldn’t normally see. Another way is to talk about a trade-secret that makes your product special.

Example(s): A great example of releasing secrets is the Justin Bieber Never Say Never video. Young girls who wanted see more from behind the scenes with Justin Beiber couldn’t wait to watch this movie and tell their friends about it. As far as keeping secrets, Coca-Cola does this with their secret formula for Coke. They create buzz about their product by playing up the fact that the recipe for Coke is a heavily-guarded secret.

Wrap Up

By following these buzz marketing principles and using the six buttons of buzz, there’s a good chance that you can start generating more attention from your content marketing efforts. Pay attention to the examples of how these buttons were used, and take some time to figure out how to apply the principles for your business. As a bonus, any time you can apply more than one of the principles, there’s an even better chance that your content will get shared.

What about you? Do you have any examples of content marketing that effectively uses buzz marketing principles? If yes, leave a comment and share your example below.

Joseph PutnamAbout the author: Joseph Putnam is a freelance copywriter and digital marketing consultant from Orange County. He helps businesses create effective content marketing strategies. He also writes highly shareable and compelling blog content. You can follow him on Twitter and keep up with him on Google+.