With the development of the internet technology, there opportunities for companies reach to a much larger numbers of people faster than in decades ago. New media has created a new marketing environment where the old rules of marketing no longer apply.
The old rules of marketing suggest that you pull out your wallet. You’d probably spend millions to buy your way into people’s minds, interrupting them with TV spots, billboards by the side of the highway. You perhaps also hire a big PR agency who would beg the media to write about your attraction.
Viral marketing, on the other hand is an extremely effective form of advertising that being used by lots of business. Before the web explosion, it would have been referred to simply as “word of mouth” or getting your message out by having your customer base spread the word. It is exactly what it sounds like – advertising that works like a virus does. The internet is especially vital for going viral.
What is “viral” marketing?
It is a wonderful form of free online advertising. You encourage people to pass your marketing message on to others via an ebook, email, freeware software, free report, video etc.
Whatever you call it – viral, buzz, word-of-mouse, or word-of-blog marketing, having other people tell your story drives action. One person sends it to another, then that person sends it to yet another, and on and on.
This type of marketing is “viral” because it spreads and multiplies with little effort on your part.
People share viral products through email links or attachments, web pages, and digital downloads. Digital products, such as reports, are by far the most popular forms of viral marketing today.
Most viral reports are brief, so the download time is quick. The most popular form of download is the Adobe PDF (Portable Document Format), which can be opened, read, and printed.
Viral reports are always highly informative, and often explain how to solve a very specific problem or perform a critical task. What makes them viral is that at the end of the report, or sometimes embedded in the text, will be a link to your web site where you discuss a relevant product, service, an offer or a promotion campaign.
You can give away your viral reports in forums, from your own knowledge base at your own private social network portal, or other social networking sites. You can mention them in the articles that you write, and then give the articles away on the web. You can run inexpensive ezine ads, offering your free viral report to your opt-in list etc.
In addition, you can also use viral video method to market your company’s products, services and so forth. Lots of companies are experimenting often by imbedding video (typically hosted at YouTube) into their existing blogs.
Sometime, there is nothing can grabs people’s attention faster than the word FREE – free trials, free software downloads etc, free anything can put you in a potential customer’s head. Free can get your name out there and introduce people to the goods or services that will generate future revenues for your business.
There are rewards you can offer as well, such as rewarding loyal customers with anything from percentage rebates, coupons for future purchases to free gifts for their continued patronage. This is another outstanding way to make sure that your ‘virus’ continues to spread.
What “viral” marketing is not?
Viral marketing is a popular buzzword out there but is misunderstood by many. First, viral marketing is not word of mouth marketing; they are similar but not the same.
Word of mouth has a limited scope based on how it’s spread. For example, if you have ever played a game of telephone knows that a message can change dramatically by the third of fourth time it’s passed along verbally. This causes word of mouth to fizzle out fairly quickly.
Viral, on the other hand, is designed to spread through passion rather than simple conversation; it usually grows with each interaction.
However, viral marketing also gotten a bad rap in some quarters. Why? It is because there are a cadre of viral marketing “experts” who will happily take (large amounts of) your money to create a viral marketing “campaign” for you. Such as create some gimmicky game or contest that just feels forced and advertisement-like, or developed viral campaigns that involve buying access in the same old ways, like purchasing an email list to spam people or launching the campaign with a pricey print or TV ads.
If you decide to hire any viral marketing ‘experts’ to help you with your project, ask yourself, “Are these viral ideas that they suggested have anything to do with my company or my products?” If not, then don’t let your organizational reputation suffer great harm.
Viral marketing is not about gimmicks. It’s not about paying an agency to interrupt others. It’s about harnessing word-of-mouse, the most empowering form of marketing there is.
Knowing Your Customers
In order to make your viral marketing more successful, knowing and understanding your customer, know your products or services, and know what demographics you are targeting are important. Get into their head and figure out what they need to feel compelled to not only spend their hard earned money with you, but what will make them want to keep coming back, more importantly, bringing their friends with them.
Online surveys and questionnaires can be quite useful in getting inside your customer’s head. They can and should be your most valuable resource when it comes to figuring out what they want. Tracking and analyzing what motivates them to pass along your message to others is critical as well.
The best word-of-mouse efforts to promote your organization and its products and services is to deliver great online content (video, an e-book, a great blog post, an interesting photo or graphic), which is directly tied to your products, services, and ideas.
Successful viral marketing campaigns sell your ideas in a creative way that people want to share with their friends, colleagues, and family members.
In conclusion, viral marketing having others tell and spread your story for you is one of the most exciting and powerful ways to reach your audiences, your potential customers and your prospects.