One proved to be a very powerful public relations number in the marketing of America’s tiniest town and the making of a big dream. One is the population of Buford. While everyday folks prepared to celebrate one of the two holidays of Easter and Passover, on the same weekend this year, a man named Pham Dinh Nguyen was already flying back home to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam where he would wait to find out if Don Sammons accepted his bid to buy Buford for $900,000.
Spoiler alert: Nguyen got the house, the store, the one room school house, the gas station, the hardware store and the grocery store. He snagged it all in less than 15 minutes worth of bidding against a handful of others. Nguyen proved that everyone one can dream in America and some can even carve a piece of it out of the mythic Wild West.
Buford is all of four hectares of land valued at roughly $22.5 per square meter. This makes it about 1/5th what similar agricultural land would cost him in his home country.
Billionaire’s in Vietnam? Who knew?
We all do now. News of this deal made headlines worldwide. They were fueled by another practical attention getter in this story – the auction. Well crafted headlines generate buzz for anyone savvy in the ways of public relations and social media.
A great headline will cut through the noise of more than 7,000 shiny bits of messages that bombard us daily. It will influence us to spend the most valued commodity in public relations and marketing today – our attention.
If the headline and the story that follows are really juicy, they will engage us and may even persuade us to believe the content we read.
Bonus: In the online world it can even lead us to ‘like’ and to comment and to continue to click. Click on ads. Click on stories in the sidebar. Click on the sign up box for more news from the source. People are checking out all kinds of stuff related to the story and the space or context it is in.
The net, being as open and social as it is, can also reveal the ‘fantastic’. I first came across the story of Buford, Wy which I clicked in to the Zillow site (see it here: http://www.zillow.com/blog/2012-04-05/americas-tiniest-town-goes-to-highest-bidder-from-vietnam/ )
I stayed on the page as the Buford story unfolded. The spell of this ‘unique’ story was cut short as my eye fell to the comments section.
Two cautions on the message are noteworthy.
The content: Comments on stories are to be courted but beware they can enhance or challenge any message we put out there. In this case, the item’s grammar and quality of writing was questioned. Also in question was the veracity of the statement. The truth in a transparent medium counts and alternately it can also be a target.
The context: This story was categorized under “Eye Candy” on the site’s menu bar. It is what we call a ‘conversational blog approach’ to generating interest and favorable attitude. In this case the feel good glimpse is directed to the benefit of the site’s host and sponsor, Zillow – a massive network for real estate agents.
That good vibration must be important to the site owner as they’ve placed it before: Tips & Advice, Market Trends, Finance and Professionals. That post is fun, relevant to the industry in that it gives information on a transaction and it gives a quirky anecdote to those agents capable of leveraging the power of small talk.
Does the site “down home” and storytelling structure assure you? Invite you, somehow?
Do you feel like you know them better?
Do you like these friendly folk?
Do you trust the content and methods more now at Zillow?
Did the errors in the message affect your confidence on any of the three pillars to people doing business with others: Know, like and trust?
For more on the town itself and its most recent owner, Don Sammons:
The power of story, coming soon.