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Thread: Viral Marketing

  1. #1
    Platinum Member Chatmaster's Avatar
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    Viral Marketing

    According to marketingterms.com Viral Marketing is defined as “Marketing phenomenon that facilitates and encourages people to pass along a marketing message.” Although this is a very good definition I would like to summarize it in 3 words, “Creating a buzz”.

    Viral marketing is probably one of the oldest forms of marketing. Creating a buzz has been one of the key strategies for the growth and existence of business from the early days. There was no media, news stations, magazines or any form of mass advertising available and businesses relied largely on referrals from customers to grow their own businesses. I can only imagine what it must have been like in the streets of Jerusalem 1000’s of years ago, with street vendors telling everyone that they had this unique and wonderful vegetables or maybe oils that took years of your face if you rubbed it on. I can only imagine how many consumers discussed these products over dinner at night and during social gatherings. Yes they did viral marketing, their livelihoods depended on it!

    Even today it is still being practiced by businesses. Ironically people get completely confused when they hear the term Viral Marketing and despite having done it before themselves probably for other businesses they seem to steer away from this “unknown” marketing strategy.

    Every time I go to the café where I buy my daily requirements like bread and milk I am being tasked with doing viral marketing. Gabriel, the café owner always has something that is the freshest or best in the area. Just this afternoon he showed me these large potatoes that he sold for much less than anybody else in my town. If anyone would ask me where to buy good potatoes, I will certainly refer them to Gabriel.

    But viral marketing has grown much more complex and in a sense easier than in the beginning of the marketing days. Viral marketing can now be passed on much faster and with a much bigger buzz than ever before.

    One of the first and biggest viral marketing techniques used online must have been Hotmail. Within less than 6 months after it’s launch on the 4th of July 1996 Hotmail had more than 1 million subscribers! Everyone was talking about Hotmail! What made Hotmail such a wonderful idea was that people sent email to others using their Hotmail address distributing the name globally. The company was sold to Microsoft 18 months later for the tidy sum of $400 million!

    This exact same technique was used by Google when they launched Gmail, they just added a very important feature, exclusivity. For a couple of year, only Gmail members were able to refer Gmail to friends and so forth. This made it exclusive and unique, causing everyone to want it.

    Another recent famous guy that built his entire reputation and brand around viral marketing has to be theRichJerk.com. Being anonym this guy have no fear and most people probably talk about theRichJerk just because of his arrogance and because he is a selfish bastard! Yes that he is, there is more descriptive words for him, but let me explain by allowing him to do the talking himself, I quote from one of his newsletters he sent to me…

    Dear Loser,

    I've sent out two emails in the past few days with some groundbreaking
    news:

    a) I'm holding a live 2 day event.

    b) I'm releasing some killer software.

    c) I have video proof that I'm ****ing awesome.

    If you missed my shocking video, go to
    LINK

    In response to the above I received over 20,000 replies.
    In the email marketing world, that's a tremendous response.

    And more than 10,000 of those replies were from people who told me to
    fu*k off, die a slow death, go to Hell, wait for a hitman, prepare for a broken jaw, blah blah blah.

    In other words, the same ole' stuff I always get.

    But people are EXTRA pissed at me this time, because they never took me
    seriously before. But I just shoved video proof UP THEIR ASSES. And now
    they're angry, because there's no denying it now - how legit I am, and
    how truly pathetic they are.
    ***SNIP***
    I know, this is far from my kind of language, but think about it! This guy is getting everyone talking just because he has this complete arrogance about him. He is probably this pimple faced teenager sitting in his little bedroom at his parents home, but who cares, he even has pictures of “him” and some famous people to proof that he is rich and handsome. His entire marketing strategy, brand and business is designed around viral marketing.

    In my opinion Seth Godin wrote an entire book about viral marketing but called it “Purple Cow”, this book is worth a read btw, if you want a good foundation for viral marketing. Locally we also have a number of companies that been using viral marketing successfully in their conventional marketing process. I would like to mention one that stood out through the years and that company has to be Nando’s. They have been in the news several times for being challenged legally for their insensitive ads. Everybody remembers the ad with the blind lady? Well very few of us actually saw it, but it was in the news all over the place.

    The Internet brings viral marketing into a complete new level of performance however. But also with many more options. Although the discussion requires much more detail I will highlight a few points to plan a viral campaign.

    What are your goals

    Knowing your goals is the foundation of a viral campaign. Your objective determines the style and functionality of your viral campaign. Here are a couple of examples and how it determines your strategy.

    Brand building – This kind of campaign doesn’t require much functionality and relies mostly on utilizing a distribution network like Facebook and YouTube to distribute your campaign. It normally contains qualities of humor, shock or controversy.
    Data mining – Normally requires some technical abilities to obtain data of the visitor to allow access.

    From the two examples above you can probably see the role your goals or objectives has to play in a viral campaign.

    Determine your marketing angle

    Your marketing angle will not only affect the success of your campaign but will also determine the lifetime of the campaign. Normally a viral campaign has a fairly long lifetime as it gets sent to and from friends all over the web over the years. However, if you simply make an advert this will not be the case, a simple advert will die a certain death very quickly. Your marketing angle should be built around two factors.

    · The problem
    · The unique solution

    By highlighting the problem in a humorous video and then showing your product as the unique solution to the problem has been proven to be a success over the years.

    Therefore you need to understand the consumer and their needs first. Then you have to understand your competitors and the main features that make your product unique from theirs. This can be anything from service to specific product features.

    Now you need to focus on these features to come up with a sales dialogue that will be used in your viral campaign. This can either be a online flash game or even a scenario on video. The sales dialogue is the crux of the campaign as it will determine the success of the campaign not only in terms of lifetime and response but also in terms of reaching the target market as the solution to their problem.

    The framework design

    Many companies have done viral campaigns for pure branding exercises. I feel that it is strange to do that purely for branding if there is so much more you can do utilizing the web today, some might disagree… I am thinking here about the Reebok videos with Terry Tate for example. The campaign was regarded as such a success by Reebok that they made 2 more that I know of. But little do they know it was a miserable failure. Sure the campaign was successful as far as people really enjoying it and distributing it, but many people still wonder who Fletchers and son’s are and I have heard many people talking about the Terry Tate Nike videos. The videos itself had nothing to do with their brand or their company, nor did it have a theme remotely associated with their products. A further mistake was that they didn’t have any kind of data mining associated with the campaign and therefore they simply entertained the world for a while.

    One of the biggest advantages of having a successful viral campaign is building a database of prospects that you can later target with special promotions and literature. Even better is if the campaign targets prospects that in line with the demographics of your product or service.
    Last edited by Chatmaster; 12-Feb-08 at 08:30 AM.

  2. #2
    Platinum Member Chatmaster's Avatar
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    continue

    So lets look at an example of an online viral campaign with data mining

    You research your products and compare it to your competitors. You compile a short list of differences and decide to research demographics of your top consumer. You realize that the fact that your one product, a 6 blade razor and that your closest competitor only has a 3 blade razor on the market. You also see from your demographics that your top consumers are females that are into sports.

    Your research also shows that your consumers like humor and you decide to do a search on a jokes site for jokes relating to these 3 points; razors, females and sports. You find the ideal joke and now the good part starts. You get together your team for a brainstorm so you could get the script together for either a movie or maybe a flash animation. Based on your marketing budget you realize that you cannot afford either and you and your team will have to do the entire shoot yourselves.

    You put together a great script and everyone practice their lines and acting ability. Every now and then you catch one of your staff members practicing their acting skills in front of the bathroom mirror and just smile, waiting for your turn. The Friday you bring your home video camera to the office and you begin the shoot. After a few practice shoots you finally pull it of and now the video is off to the graphics guys for the final cut and adding of the branding and music.

    When the video returns you cannot help but laugh and laugh. It is the funniest video that you have ever seen! It will be a success without a doubt!

    BUT

    The viral campaign doesn’t stop there. Yes you do not have to spent a fortune on a viral campaign or video. More than once it has been proven that cheap movies can even work better than high budget ones, that is not the problem here.

    You need to think further. How are you going to obtain the information you require for data mining? You somehow need to obtain email addresses or mobile numbers for future canvassing?

    In order to do that you need to ensure that the video cannot be stolen and freely distributed on the web. You will therefore need to embed it into a flash file and maybe use programming to call the file, so that no one can rip the flash file and find the destination of the video file to copy it.

    You will require registration and you will have to make a referral system available to make it easy for people to tell friends about the video. This is the one way of ensuring that you can obtain contact details for future canvassing.

    You will need to have a P3P privacy policy in place.

    You will need to make code available for webmasters that would like to link to the video.

    Added to all this detail you still need to ensure that it is so easy and user friendly, that it doesn’t deter people from viewing the video.

    Perhaps you want to ad incentives for people to refer the video to their friends even motivate them to refer it to more friends. You need to design auto mailers thoroughly and word them perfectly to keep the excitement going. You will also need to think about follow up mailers to further ask for referrals and increasing recency to the referral page.

    To launch the video you might even have to cut a teaser video that can be freely distributed in order to increase the effectiveness of the campaign. It might contain a “To be continued at blahblah.com” wording at the end. You will need to upload this to Youtube and perhaps also Facebook.

    If you are lucky enough to have an existing database of customers to get the ball rolling, you will need to design a launch e-mailer.

    At the end of the day there are various ways to create a viral marketing platform. There are videos, games, handy tools, promotional prizes, etc. You might even open the viral campaign up as a competition where people can enter the competition by submitting their viral campaign and the winner’s campaign will then be chosen and he will win a wonderful prize, but the basic rules stay the same.

    The secret of viral marketing is lateral and creative thinking in order to create a buzz with a long lifetime.

  3. #3
    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Great article CM! But I would like to throw a curve ball....

    People are getting more and more against giving out contact details (is it really worth it to see the video?) Also, there is a greater and greater move to "pull" rather than "push" technologies and marketing. I think that people would rather "pull" what they want than have information and marketing "pushed" onto them.

    This is really the essence of viral marketing (and what you are saying).

    Let's just look at the video example. You might get 1 million viewers, but only 10000 qualified leads from those (which means a whole lot of people getting what is effectively spam).

    Maybe it is better to have that video out there being shared (without the form to view it), and then just a place to subscribe to more info for those that are interested.
    [SIGPIC]Engineer Simplicity[/SIGPIC]
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    Platinum Member Chatmaster's Avatar
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    You are correct Duncan. Logically most people has a problem handing out their information. One of the biggest advantages of viral marketing however are the fact that the people that initiate the process normally knows your brand already. This results into a chain of events. Friends referring friends, advertising might be ignored, but a recommendation by a friend are definitely not ignored. That is where the power of viral marketing is. The marketing is done for you by people the future prospects trust.

    Just an added note...
    The main objective of the article is to explain the flexibility of viral marketing rather than the rule. The article is not a tutorial but rather a creative way of opening the mind to the possibilities but friendly warnings of what to look out for.

    Viral marketing techniques for data mining objectives would rather include something useful that people really need or want. For example: a free ebook, listing in a directory, a useful tool and most of the time a special promotion. A video would much rather be utilized on a site like youtube in order to redistribute it all over the web and places like Facebook.

    However, I have seen many mistakes made in the past by companies that utilized viral campaigns and made a hash of it by missing small detail. The last part of the article is mainly aimed at raising the mistakes I found most commonly made whilst explaining in essence the true value of viral marketing.

    One of the biggest problems I have is not to explain detail to someone and then ending up giving them tunneled thoughts. Viral marketing requires creativity and "out of the box" thinking to be successful. There are virtually no rules when it comes to what can be done in viral.
    Last edited by Chatmaster; 12-Feb-08 at 08:54 AM.

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    Hi Roelof,

    I agree with you in every aspect of viral marketing. People who are not taking advantage of the opportunities out there are really losing out. Sure, I understand that people have fear of being scammed! Guess what, we're all scammed every day by the largest banks and insurance companies in South Africa. Yet we still like sheep go and hand over our money willingly to them for their pathetic services. It's time to hit back and earn more money than they can handle, thus you won't be in debt to them, and be working for them all your life.

    Do some viral marketing, check the results and get your life back, and don't let anyone own you, like your boss, the bank, your creditors, and the government!

    Cheers
    Zoltan
    Last edited by Dave A; 12-Feb-08 at 01:17 PM.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    I had a little clean up job to do there. Sorry, Zoltan - but there is a not-so-subtle difference between viral marketing and spam marketing.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Platinum Member Chatmaster's Avatar
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    I think I must write a spam marketing tutorial next

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Don't you dare. That's the last thing this world needs.

    Guerrilla marketing would be interesting, though

    (Again, for the spammers out there, there is a difference).
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Bronze Member Karenwhe's Avatar
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    Excellent intro to viral marketing. Thanks for that.

    I just wanted to add one small thing, which has been preached over and over again in Internet marketing, and also applies by nature to viral marketing.

    I have seen people try to do viral marketing with many products, but most e-business fail because they don't give the customers what they want, but what they think they want.

    In viral marketing for any product, it is essential that the viral component is like a "virus" that is the definition of viral marketing, and if the "thing" given away to spread and create more customers or whatever is not something that is of "wide" and I mean "very wide" interest to spread and extremely "addictive" to spread a viral marketing will stop short very fast. (e.g. I can't stop myself for not sending this to another person because: 1. it is extremely good/useful/entertaining 2. the incentives are extremely irresistable. The second option is usually when less qualified leads and customers come to the originator of the marketing campaign).

    I found that viral marketing is not easy, by far, and extensive customer research usually goes into it, or pure luck for some (for ICQ it was pure luck of the draw, the right product at the right time give out for free).

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    Platinum Member Chatmaster's Avatar
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    A fantastic contribution Karen! Thanks for your input, Greens coming your way!

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