Book Review: Grapevine – The New Art of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

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Cover of "Grapevine: The New Art of Word-...

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Grapevine published in 2005, by Dave Balter (the CEO and Founder of word-of-mouth marketing firm BzzAgent) and John Butman (co-author of other novels e.g. Trading Up & the Word-of-Mouth Manual) tackles the influence of word-of-mouth and buzz generation in the successful marketing of products and services.

I found this book to be a trifle disappointing through little fault of its own. The sheer fact of the changed landscape of human interaction and awareness of this change by marketers has made this book, and those like it, more of an introductory text than a relevant guide for marketers looking to step into these waters.

The authors state “80% of word-of-mouth takes place in live dialogue and only 20% online” which is a statistic that has seen much change as people spend more and more of their time online. The rise and spread in popularity of social networks like Facebook, Orkut, MySpace, and Friendster have also contributed to increased communication online.

The authors do make several relevant points which though hardly illuminating are points that remain essential for every marketer:

  • Non-contextual buzz adds no value to your brand
  • Buzz is great but you can’t save an inferior product
  • Companies need to be genuine

The use of case-studies of products launched was informative but the authors attempt to tie in the failure of these campaigns in some form or the other to a lack of word-of-mouth was not completely convincing. The fictional scenario presented as an illustration to the book again is present only to highlight word-of-mouth as the saviour of the day.

On the whole the book has some interesting moments but not what i would recommend for marketers looking to make an impact with their consumers today.

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February 8, 2010

Anol Bhattacharya

I have the same feelings about the book. In some parts the book sounds like elaborate advertisement of BzzAgent. Nothing new or revolutionary.