What is Viral Marketing?
Often referred to as word of mouth, creating buzz, piggybacking…
Viral marketing is a strategy that makes your current customers or people on your list visible, big supporters of your business (brand advocates). It’s a great straetgy to expand your user base to increase sales and customers. To make this work, your current customers need to feel comfortable and connected to your product or service, and willing to pass it on to others to consider. Done right, the cool thing about viral is that you leverage a dynamic of the social graph that is hugely important…empowerment. Think about it, if I can introduce my friends to something very special, cool, fun, money saving before anyone else does, just because they are my friend, that gives me more status in my social graph.
The key to a successful viral marketing strategy depends on your market, and what motivates target users. You must mold your strategy to connect with your target prospects. Viral marketing will never take off if you don’t have a high pass-rate within your market and you will not have a high pass-rate if your product/service does not have a solid reputation with your customers and a very cool “empowerment” concept.
How do you go about this?
Here are some tips to create your viral marketing strategy and create chatter within your target audience:
- Make your audience feel some type of emotion. Whether they love you or they hate you, nothing is worse than feeling neutral.
- Do something that lets people notice you. I always use the example that if there was a room full of green jackets, what would you do to stand out? Not wear a green jacket, of course. Do not be a copycat.
- Identify something that you can offer that will make people want to share it (because of the empowerment concept) and make it very easy to share. Special discounts, unique products, exclusive content, private access are great tools.
- Now that you have your audience’s attention, they want to talk. Follow up with related content and value to get your new prospects to act.
- Don’t sell! Share, empower, cultivate, schmooze…
Viral marketing is a little like drilling for oil. You will need to try different approaches to see what works. This is best done in quick cycles with good feedback so you can build on concepts that are getting traction.
Check out “Six principles of viral marketing” for some very specific ideas on how to execute a viral marketing plan.
What do you think about viral marketing?
Is marketing in the new normal easy? In a word, no.
When I started my marketing career in 1981 at Y&R in nyc I remember what media planning was like. In those days we had a “computer room” where we all had to go (b/c we did not have computers on our desks) and “run the numbers”. That was, keep running reach and frequency reports till the cows came home and/or you finally discovered the optimal mix (theoretically) of media to maximize your reach, frequency and effective reach.
Remember effective reach? How many times you clobbered your prospect over the head with your message till you thought it finally registered? Well, 28 years later the customer somehow got control. And they do not like getting interrupted very much. They like to learn about new products and services that might fit their needs, but they want those messages delivered to them when they are seeking answers…by people they trust and know. Read more