Five steps to turn buzz into sales

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2009/02/26 · 5 comments 10,288 views

in a dos and don'ts,c micro-blogging Twitter,e marketing 101 style matters

This post was inspired by Guy Kawasaki guykawasaki (see further below).

It is clear that during this recession cash is short and we all need to make ends meet with less. If you have a brand or represent one as in the case of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, another brand may even want to collaborate with you. Steif, for example, produced a Karl Lagerfeld teddy (see image left).

But with limited cash resources and no famous brand, it is difficult to get traction. I have previously discussed this in several blog posts, such as:

This case study describes our own, in which we want to launch and secure the attention and traction needed to get customers. is web-based software that enables the benchmarking of corporate blogs. All work is carried out and funded by CyTRAP Labs GmbH and sweat equity provided by the firm’s owners. follows the KISS principle (Keep it simple, Stupid!) for making tools that measure metrics. Admittedly, famous designer Dieter Ram inspired us with:

Below I list and discuss the five obstacles we had to overcome in order to prepare our product launch. It might sound familiar to some and not to others, but it is definitely an interesting read.

1) Who is the target?
Our four-point corporate strategy fits on a napkin and is simple and straightforward. It makes clear who our stakeholders are and why customers are number one.

We set a target for ourselves: get 10,000 people to sign up for‘s 60-day FREE TRIAL. We believe it will take about three months after launch to get there. But how will we get from trial users to paying customers?

2) What will be measured?
To answer that, we have to clarify what exactly we are after – actionable metrics. Others have demonstrated that using social networks to create enough awareness might be enough:

Our objective is a bit different. We want to get 1,000 of the 10,000 free trial users to sign up for one of our plans and become annual subscribers, thereby paying a fee.

3) When will this goal come to fruition?
In order to achieve the above, we need to share product information with the public. Twitter or Facebook come to mind to share information with many and for getting a few to sign up. Naturally, one may have to use a somewhat unusual approach. For instance, we could run an online contest using Twitter. This has been done by several firms with some success, such as:

Since we are starting from scratch or what is called zero sales for the product, maybe a contest is not the most effective way to drum up business at the beginning. Still, we can use our blog; thanks to search engines, blog posts still provide traffic long after the initial rush of traffic from Twitter is over. This is discussed further here:

So we are starting to leverage our blog in the hope of raising awareness, but will it suffice?

4) Where can enough attention be garnered to create buzz?
Our blog likely will not be enough, but having the New York Times, Frankfurter Allgemeine or Le Monde write about your product might. Guy Kawasaki guykawasaki recently interviewed Emanuel Rosen on The Art of Generating Buzz. Rosen points out that getting tons of buzz while a nobody and/or before a single sale (sounds like us :-) ) is more likely the exception than the rule. So where does that leave us?

Well, ComMetrics did a lot of planning and decided to collaborate with a brand many of you know – the Financial Times.

For us, the advantage in this collaboration is that the Financial Times is a well-known brand that reaches thousands of readers around the globe every day. Plus, its online portal has gone from one success to the next. Most important, our target group of customers, including business people, corporate bloggers, social media experts and media firms read the Financial Times. But how did we secure this collaboration?

Thanks to Bernhardwarner Bernhardwarner, who gave me a freebie to attend a social media conference (check it out March 3, 2009: very interesting agenda), I travelled to London in June 2008. Quite a while before that, I had approached the FT folks and asked for a meeting. We met in the FT canteen to have a ‘cuppa’ and used the time to discuss the FT ComMetrics Blog Index.  I outlined what corporate blogs would be selected from those owned and operated by FT Global 500 firms. Fortunately, Peter Whitehead, editor of the Financial Times‘ regular supplement on Digital Business, bought the idea. Of course, after this initial meeting it took a while to finalize the index through email, but working on this index allowed us to further improve our product and use it as a showcase for illustrating what a customer can do with it.

The FT ComMetrics Blog Index will be published in the May 13 print edition of the Digital Business supplement and online. This will help garner some attention for our product, if not true buzz. For this purpose I have begun to push the release of the upcoming index on our website (see right-hand corner of for a countdown widget). Moreover, during late February, I started pushing the index using our microblogging channel on Twitter, such as:

We are confident that this joint project with the FT will create far more attention for our product than we could generate on our own.

5) Why do some things go viral and others wither away?
Viral marketing is not a strategy. However, if you do most things right, your product message has the potential to go viral. Running a contest and offering the winners dinner with fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld or supermodel Claudia Schiffer will certainly help spread the message about your product, but in the end, you do not decide whether your message goes viral or not. Everybody else does.

Still, one can probably help a bit by preparing a small campaign to get some multiplier effects from the FT index. For instance, we will try to approach other online and print journalists, as well as newspapers, in the hope that they may write about the product. As well, we have some other indices in the pipeline that might get us some buzz in other countries, such as Germany (e.g., MdB blogcharts).

Bottom line
Whatever we decide to do for our product launch, the result needs to be high enough penetration within the crowd of potential users so that enough will use our product. The latter happens by having users test our tool, by ranking their blogs or comparing themselves to the competition with the help of our blog benchmarking software. Using our tool will convince quite a few that it helps effectiveness as far as managing a blog is concerned.

How do we get to that point? I will keep you posted and provide you with an update before the release of the FT ComMetrics Blog Index (subscribe to our RSS or email updates and get yourself a free Alpha subscription by registering at – act fast, free subscriptions are running out!).
More resources for you
Retailers show us how Twitter CAN be used for business

  • Bernhard Warner

    Very well put, Urs. We hear so many firms promising clients a “viral” marketing initiative. Doesn’t work that way. You can do your homework to find the influencers and the issues they most care about to remove the guesswork. But that’s the only honest thing you can say to a client — we’ve removed the guesswork. If they’ve produced something awful, its chances of going viral are very weak indeed.

    Thanks for plug on Social Media Influence, amico. I’m looking forward to hearing what Google and LinkedIn have to say!


  • MyComMetrics

    Financial #crisis |small biz have tough time to create buzz for product launch |pls RT #tools2watch

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