Grapevine: The New Art of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Dave Balter, Author, John Butman, Author . Portfolio $24.95 (214p) ISBN 978-1-59184-110-4

Like most other marketing books, this intriguing but unconvincing volume dwells on botched ad campaigns, implying that those campaigns would have triumphed if only the advertiser had sought the authors' advice. In this case, all the reviled efforts overlooked "the most powerful marketing force in the world": word-of-mouth. "Everybody talks to everybody else about products every day," writes Balter, founder of three-year-old BzzAgent Inc., which enlists earnest volunteers to spread the gospel about products that the firm is hired to promote. Balter argues that the fact that BzzAgents actually tell people, "I'm a BzzAgent, and I'm pushing this product" aids the credibility of both the products and their advocates, with the result that Bzz campaigns succeed where shill campaigns (which employ paid actors) backfire. That may be true, but this volume doesn't adequately make the case that sincerity and product samples constitute a marketing revolution: the book's slapdash, "admittedly nonscientific" analysis is backed by little more than enthusiasm, quotes from The Tipping Point and three years of BzzAgent anecdotes. Balter's gee-whiz, narcissistic writing voice won't help win converts, either. (Though Butman is a coauthor, Balter narrates the book in the first person.) While it aspires to reorient current thinking on consumerism and social interaction, it's clear that this book's true purpose is to serve as a 210-page BzzAgent ad. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/19/2005
Release date: 11/01/2005
Open Ebook - 978-0-7865-8842-8
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-101-21648-4
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-0-7865-8843-5
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