Just call Dave Balter the Buzzmaster. The 33-year-old founder of BzzAgent Inc., a word-of-mouth marketing agency in Boston that projects sales of $10 million to $15 million in 2005, is so good at talking up products and services that he's got 92,000 volunteers--dubbed BzzAgents--talking up his clients.
Operating on the premise that people are looking for good recommendations before they buy, Balter gives his agents access to the latest and greatest products and services. BzzAgents test them out and then chat them up to friends, neighbors--even strangers. They'll sing the praises of everything from satellite radio to apparel to candy. Then, they report to BzzAgent with the results of their efforts.
Why does it work? "As consumers, what we search for is credibility," says Balter, whose book Grapevine: The New Art of Word-of-Mouth Marketing is due out next month. "A recommendation from another person is a form of credibility."