“Once cast to the wind, spreading your virus is virtually free. All the effort is in the front end; you’re investing time and imagination, not money.”
What is viral marketing?
Any form of marketing that is by nature self-replicating, hence comparisons to pathological and computer viruses. Viral promotions include emails, blogs, white papers, special reports, video clips, e-cards, interactive games, e-books, software, images, jokes, text messages and, ultimately, word of mouth ‘buzz’. The driving principle is to encourage or, preferably, inspire, people to pass along your marketing messages to others.
It’s been argued that for a viral campaign to work it is first important to identify prospects with high Social Networking Potential (SNP), but this is misleading. The fact is we’re all ‘social networkers’, insofar that we all communicate, to a greater or lesser degree, with others. On average, a customer will tell three people about a product or service they like. So to this extent viral marketing is really nothing more than tapping into normal human behaviour.
Let’s be clear, whatever your business, there is potential to tap into viral marketing to increase your exposure to the marketplace. OK, some markets may be better placed to benefit than others, but in most cases all it needs is a little imagination. Being a great fan of all things lean and mean, the appeal of viral marketing for me is that, once cast to the wind, spreading your virus is virtually free. All the effort is in the front end; you’re investing time and imagination, not money.
Getting started: How do you go about becoming viral?
Your goal as a marketer is to create viral messages that appeal to your core market and have a high probability of being passed on. The first thing you need to understand is that, whatever the nature of your virus, all roads inevitably lead back to your website. So if your website isn’t up to scratch, you’ll want to give it your full attention before going any further. Remember, your marketing system is only as strong as its weakest link.
The quality principle
OK, you’re satisfied that your website is doing its job. What to do next? It’s now time for some blue sky thinking, because the fact is you now have a licence to be as creative as you want. But first a word of caution: in my experience there are at least two hard and fast rules to consider when you develop your virus: 1/ you must not overtly be selling anything; 2/ it must be of genuine value to the recipient and of the highest possible quality. If, for example, you’re promoting a white paper or a report of some kind, it must contain original, well-researched material that can be immediately implemented to make a difference in the life of the reader. The same principle applies whether you’re promoting a video clip, a ‘how to’ list, a witty or profound anecdote, a unique or amusing photograph, or anything else. Think QUALITY.
How does viral marketing relate to your business?
Now, you may well be thinking: this all sounds great for online publishers like yourself, but what on earth has this to do with my business? I run a greetings card company, a florists shop, a manufacturing workshop, a design agency. How on earth could viral marketing possibly profit my business?
Inviting people to forward your email is viral marketing at its most basic level. Let’s examine some more sophisticated strategies. So what’s your business? OK, let’s suppose you really do run a greetings card company.
A couple of years ago I received a viral Christmas e-card, forwarded from a business associate. It was a witty and tastefully produced Flash-animated depiction of the Twelve Days of Christmas, set to music. The card contained a link to the card designer’s website.
I was so impressed that I forwarded the card to most of my friends and business associates, many of whom went on to do the same. And, because it was a seasonal card, I unearthed the link the following Christmas and sent it to a batch of my new clients. No doubt I’ll do the same next year (Cheap? Yes! I make no bones about it. As I’ve said before, I hate spending money unless I have to.)
Now, I’ve no way of telling how many impressions of this card have been viewed around the world since its conception, but I’d hazard a guess that it runs into the hundreds of thousands. Like one of those perennial Christmas pop hits, this viral card has the potential to run and run, all the while bringing in a continuous stream of visitors to the card designer’s website along with, no doubt, a significant passive income.
But what if you run an engineering workshop? Let’s say you produce prefabricated extension conservatories. How do you tap into viral marketing to promote your product?
It’s easy when you know how. And, believe me, you do know how. Because you’re an expert! If you’re even half good at what you do, there’s a strong chance that you know more about the pitfalls of buying a conservatory than 99% of the population.
Do you want to know more about Viral marketing? If so then get in touch with us and let’s talk over the benefits in detail and get you on track for a profitable website.
Call us on 0870 770 0078 for a free consultation.
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