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Grapevine: Why Buzz Was a Fad but Word of Mouth Is Forever Paperback – Bargain Price, June 24, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Trade (June 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159184228X
  • ASIN: B003IWYISW
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,560,384 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Why is it that normally talented, even cutting--edge innovators feel compelled to exhibit logorrhea when pen is poised over paper? Such is the case with Balter, who, with the aid of writer Butman, crystallizes his practice of word-of-mouth marketing. The concept is unique and differentiated from buzz by its credibility, its emphasis on genuine storytelling, and its theme: "not 100% goodness 100% of the time." There's research (and bottom-line sales results) that proves his points about the benefits of "one big cocktail party." But he spoils the effect by, in Seth Godin-esque fashion, choosing to insert a fictional account of Bardo, the perfect target customer; SparklyPerfect, a new product; and Annie, the designated marketer. First, a straight-out-of-fantasyland narrative goes against the honesty-is-our-policy foundation of word-of-mouth marketing. Second, real-life case histories--as with Apple iPod and its battery and the Coke C2 debacle--drive home the premise far better than any novel; real experiences and real perceptions make the product sing. Barbara Jacobs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I have to say this is the most fun "Business" book I have ever read.
roheis
The main problem that I have is that the book didn't seem to come together to anything new in the end.
A. Martin
The information in this book is very easy to understand and fun to read.
Andria Young

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Brightwell on November 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Word-of-mouth as a marketing tool? I was skeptical. After all, millions of dollars are spent on 30-second spot during the Superbowl. Oprah gave away a bunch of cars on her show one day. Magazine ads, TV commericals, rebates, coupons - that's what marketing is, not people talking about the coffee at their local coffee house. Grapevine has me reconsidering my opinion. Valid points are made about the effectiveness of some of these huge promotions we've seen over the years, such as the Oprah car giveaway. The show got people taking but was it about the product? Since reading the book, I've paid a lot more attetion to conversations around me and I've been surprised how often references to products come up. Grapevine has me thinking that maybe we, as consumers, actually do have power to make changes in the marketplace. Even if you're not in sales or marketing, I recommend this book because it will change the way you think about advertising in general. If you are a marketer, it will make you consider the power of people's opinions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joy V. Smith VINE VOICE on November 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I'm a Bzz agent, and I enjoyed reading excerpts from Grapevine chapters as it was being written and got to vote on the cover. (The publisher made its own choice, however.) It's a fascinating and enlightening book, with stories of ad campaigns--successful and not. The business background explains a lot about the commercials and ads we see and hear. A fictional ad campaign for SparklyPerfect runs through the book, and I thought that was fun! (The sponsor had lots of money, and the woman in charge of the ad campaign really had to hustle.) I really liked the book, but then I'm interested in marketing. (I was surprised to learn, as a Bzz agent--even before I read the book--how much everyone bzzs every day!) I did appreciate the fact that it's an easy and funny read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jenn Roma on November 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
When I first got this book I wasn't sure I'd really enjoy it. Some of the business books I've read have been so dry and boring. This book kept me engaged until the end with the many interesting examples which Dave Balter highlighted throughout. I had heard about Word of Mouth Marketing, but reading this book gave me a much better understanding and has me looking at things differently. It's kind of a light read as far as business books go. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in finding out more about WOMM.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kug VINE VOICE on January 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
very disappointed for sure. this is a regurgitation of stuff we've been reading forever. Packaged nice in their own buzz words and all but not worth the price and certainly nothing new here.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Guttertype on April 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
From the founder of Bzzagent- a book on how marketing can utilize word of mouth to sell product. Isn't that what marketing is? Filled with field reports and a company history framed within a hokey story. Nothing revolutionary here. Slapdash case studies with illogical conclusions, but a fascinating look at what people will do for free product. The kinder, gentler, more primitive face of Pattern Recognition. Favorite unintentional moment- Balter's defense against William Gibson and David Byrne's criticism by claiming bzzagent's not that kind of company. We were, but we're not now. Oh Tipping Point, see what you have wrought!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Flowers on November 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am a buzz agent so I received a copy of the book to try out. I feel that a lot of the examples given in the book made it an interesting read. I am not sure, however, that I would say that I gained a lot of new knowledge on WOM marketing.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Martin on November 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I must preface this review by saying like many of the other reviews I am a BzzAgent. I got a free copy of the book.

I was greatly interested since I am currently starting a new business. Does this offer something that can help me with that? The answer is mostly no. However, that doesn't seem to be the fault of the book. Rather, it's the nature of word of mouth, as becomes clear in the book. It's not something you can really control or measure so in that way I was disappointed.

The book does a good job of discussing a few ideas ideas about word of mouth, such as why being honest in marketing is needed (which is why every review from a BzzAgent on here is saying so), that the influential people may not be who you think they are, etc. Each chapter is prefixed by an illustrative fantasy example about the imaginary sparklyperfect product, which did help me to understand the ideas being discussed.

The main problem that I have is that the book didn't seem to come together to anything new in the end. It felt like a bunch of observations on marketing that weren't related except by being somewhat about worth of mouth and some of those were obvious to me (people don't like being lied to). The potential was there, with the concept of with instead of at marketing introduced briefly in the last chapter, but it was left unfulfilled.

The book has given me some things to keep in mind in my own marketing efforts and for someone interested in the subject, it's probably worth reading. I think it could have been much more useful with more of an end in mind, though.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Scott L. DO on November 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Some people out there are really going to like this book. Some people are frustrated that nameless, faceless companies aren't listening to them. Some people have businesses based on building word-of-mouth campaigns. Some are already interested in investing in the author's services. If you're one of these people, and you're looking for a book that tells you what you already believe in... This may be an enjoyable read. (I say, "may be", because the authors sarcastic-jokey tone, although initially refreshing, does wear thin after a few chapters.) And, if you're an evangelist for word-of-mouth marketing, you now have a book to quote.

However, beyond this audience, I see this book as having limited appeal. If you're a skeptic, there is little here to convince you that word of mouth campaigns are effective. If you're looking to do something other than hire the author's company, you'll get no useful advice on how to start a word-of-mouth campaign. You will, however, hear the author's autopsy of "failed" campaigns... but will only hear the author's limited view of why they failed, without a discussion of equally cogent reasons.

Personally, I'm not an evangelist. In the end, I feel that, if I recieved this book as a free promotion from the author's company, to explain what they do and why they do it -- I'd be satisfied. If I paid for this book to learn how or why to run a word-of-mouth marketing campaign, I'd be disappointed.
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