Sunday, October 30, 2005

Should I Change My Name?

I got a call on Friday from a Wall Street Journal reporter. She is working on a piece on "Buzz Marketing" and found my Worker Bees site. Her angle, which I think is a smart one, is about smaller companies. She thinks that everyone has been focusing on major corporations and their efforts in blogging and viral or buzz marketing, but that little has been written (in the mainstream media) about small companies leveraging the same tactics.

Sounds great. I do focus on small to medium organizations, no surprise she found me. (Guess my site's content is doing the right SEO job for me.)

But here's the thing: it became clear during our conversation that when she says "buzz marketing" she is thinking of BzzAgent-type activities. Paying or rewarding people to try products or services and spread it around. She explicitly said she wasn't talking about blogging...that that had "been done."

Back when I named my company, chose the tagline and put my site online, BzzAgent (and the controversy around their tactics) had yet to break. "Viral" or "buzz" marketing were both known terms, but I just don't think they had immediate associations like they do now. And term like "social media" were definitely still yet to arise. (OK, I know I make this sound like an ice age ago, and it was less than 3 years ago, but in this industry...that's a significant amount of time!)

I read books like The Anatomy of Buzz and The Tipping Point, which talked about buzz in much more broad and creative terms. There were many ways to create buzz; there were many ways to spread buzz; there were many ways to measure and observe buzz.

I spoke to so many people who weren't marketing people who thought "viral" had really negative connotations. Since my initial target was going to be to help arts organizations, non-profits, small businesses etc. I figured many of those folks would not be marketing mavens and that they would share this reaction of distaste. Meanwhile given my company name, Worker Bees, "buzz" marketing was a cute little play on words.

This WSJ reporter is not the first person to assume that if I do "buzz marketing" I must be signing up legions of people (usually young people) to try products and offering them prizes and incentives to spread the word.

And frankly, I don't want to be thought of as being in that business. It's not what I do. It's not what I want to do. I want to create online relationships via blogs, online groups and online communities. I want my clients' brands and identities to become associated with quality content and (buzz word alert!) authentic transparency to their online customers.

So, the question is: has the definition of the term "buzz marketing" been distilled now to mean something very specific? Should I change or just remove my little tagline: "Buzz Marketing & More"?

Is the cute association with my Worker Bees brand, and the memory of when "buzz marketing" meant something a little more open-ended not worth the time I sometimes spend clarifying that I don't run BzzAgent-type incentive programs?

Or am I just letting this blow way out of proportion in my mind...and letting the mind-set of one WSJ reporter represent an entire population in a way that's not warranted?

WSJ reporter is hugely narrowing the definition of buzz marketing, as defined in books, manifestos, et al. You're fine with your name as is.

Evelyn Rodriguez
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