Monday, April 02, 2007

Beyond Buzz: The Next Generation of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

What's all the buzz about? According to Lois Kelly, this isn't the most important question to ask.

Lois has written a new book called Beyond Buzz: The Next Generation of Word-of-Mouth Marketing. In her book she writes that companies need to focus more on making meaning with their customers (or other stakeholders) than in generating buzz.

"Making meaning" can sound awfully abstract but she provides a practical, how-to guide for marketing professionals so they can figure out the best way to navigate this new world of conversational marketing.

We hear a lot these days about how companies need to "get into the conversation" but her book makes this very concrete and tangible, peppered with examples from actual companies who have done so successfully (or not so successfully).

My favorite chapter is "Building a 'talk' Culture" (Chapter 8) which goes into how companies need to rethink how they organize themselves. The table on page 167 "New Functions, New Competencies" is especially interesting. It lists eight functions that are needed to do conversational marketing, what the traditional roles were, and what the new competencies are.

Most of all, she shows how communication and conversations are central to the lifeblood of organizations, and that it's essential to develop the requisite skill sets for people throughout the organization.

Lois is on the Industry Advisory Board of my academic department at Northeastern University and we have worked on a number of projects before, including a study about influencer relationships between commercial real estate developers and key environmental, governmental, and community influencers. I love her energy, passion, and engaging style.

Becuase we worked together before I had a chance to read an early draft of the manuscript and write a blurb for the back cover. Here are the four blurbs I wrote for the book (I couldn't decide which one to use so I asked the editor to choose; she picked the first one):

#1: The Cluetrain Manifesto was a call for corporations to wake up to the global conversations about them, and potentially with them. In Beyond Buzz, Lois Kelly gives corporations the practical tools to answer that call.

#2: Many companies mistakenly think that word-of-mouth marketing is only about creating buzz for a product or service. Lois Kelly shows why this view is too narrow and that what's really needed is meaningful dialogue with customers, employees, shareholders, and community members. If you're struggling to get beyond buzz, and want a step-by-step guide for doing so, then read this book.

#3: Lois Kelly offers a lucid, step-by-step guide for companies to not only survive, but thrive, in a world of conversational marketing.

#4: Lois Kelly gets the point that word-of-mouth marketing is not just about creating buzz for a product or service, but that it's about engaging in meaningful dialogue with customers, employees, shareholders, and community members. Read this book so you can get the point too!
On a side note, I love the cover and it reminds me of my recent trip to Istanbul where I learned about "cumbas" (pronounced djoombas). Cumbas are covered balconies, usually very close in proximity to one another, where people (typically women) would talk and share stories with one another. In short, a cultural venue for word of mouth!

Best wishes with your new book Lois!