Book Review: Beyond Buzz

Note: Cross posted here from OTD.

I was lucky enough to be asked if I’d like to get a review copy of a new marketing book by Lois Kelly titled “Beyond Buzz: The Next Generation of Word-of-Mouth Marketing. I’ll admit to being a tad skeptical about the book, despite my definite interest in reading it and seeing what Kelly had to say. The skepticism came simply from wondering if Kelly would really find something new to add to the conversation. I’d read some pretty decent WOMM books before and I was interested in seeing if this would be a retreading of familiar ground or if there was a fresh take that could be offered on the subject.

Fortunately it was the latter. “Beyond Buzz” focuses not on word-of-mouth marketing and indeed, as the title promises, does go beyond simply outlining how to generate buzz. What Kelly focuses on is how to begin, nurture and act on conversations both within a company and among a consumer base. From the CEO to the sales rep and everyone in-between, Kelly makes a strong case for conversations as the most effective marketing tool a company could use to connect with potential customers at all levels.

As part of her point on how to create authentic conversations Kelly often comes back to her advice that we, as communications professionals of all stripes, “write to be said” instead of writing “to be read.” The two are, of course, very different tactics. If you’ve met me in person you likely know that how I write is very much how I speak and that’s what Kelly encourages all marketing professionals to do when trying to connect with a community of any sort. Using “I” (which I generously do in help for marketers my writing) helps people see the writer as a person and creates a deeper connection between the two parties. That can be of tremendous use to marketers who are trying to win over customers and influence behavior. After all, who would you trust more, someone you feel some level of connection with or some really bland and darn-near unreadable marketing copy. Yeah, me too.

“Beyond Buzz” is written with that same sort of personal take. Kelly’s passion for the topic comes through loud and clear. Other books I’ve read I “hear” in my mind like someone who’s speaking frantically and passionately about something that they’re desperately trying to convince me of. And that passion is great. This one has the same sort of passion but it’s much more focused. It’s kind of like someone who is incredibly passionate about the topic but funneled that passion through a formal presentation to help me fully understand why they think what they think and so I can find ways to incite my own passion.

That’s probably the biggest take away I have from “Beyond Buzz.” This isn’t a book that will convince a CEO in clear, uncluttered language that I need to have a new style of marketing approach. But it is a book that I could use as a marketer to find ways to change the culture of the sales and marketing departments slowly and surely, bringing everyone around to my way of thinking with some clearly delineated steps.

It’s a good book and a good read and, if you’re looking for ways to invigorate your own thinking as well as the thinking of the people around you, it’s something you should definitely check out. I’d like to thank Kelly and her publicity firm for hooking me up with a copy.