Five Tips for Gutsy Viral Marketing
We’ve all heard stories about the man who traded a paper clip for a house, watched as Prince generated an untold amount of publicity for his work by threatening to sue a dancing baby on YouTube for copyright infringement, and laughed when the “Leave Britney Alone!” video grabbed mainstream media attention and caused even more interest in Britney Spears’ antics — just in time for her new album release.
Now business-to-business marketers — and, increasingly, nonprofit organizations — are going viral too. When you look at some of these high-flying, over-the-top tactics that generate tons of buzz, you begin to ask yourself: “What can we do to ramp up from nothing to superstar status in such a short time?” Of course, finding the right trick can be difficult and certainly not foolproof, but there is some advice that stands the test of time.
1. Be interesting. Does that seem too simple? Maybe, but those two words sum up the essence of what makes a successful word-of-mouth campaign, online program, direct-mail piece, podcast or blog. Don’t believe me? Read any of marketing guru Seth Godin’s books, and you’ll find that when you distill all the advice down, “be interesting” is the simple message that underpins it all.
2. Provide for effortless transfer to others. Take your lead from health care professionals: Viruses spread when they’re easy to transmit. Make your message easy to transfer and duplicate: E-mail, Web site, graphic and software downloads work great. The Internet is a terrific way to disseminate information because it promotes instant communication. A digital format makes copying simple. From a marketing standpoint, simplify your message so it can be transmitted easily and without degradation. Shorter is better.
3. Let your supporters do the work for you. This is an absolute act of bravery. How many companies these days put prospects in the same room with customers who are using their products and let them have an unfiltered discussion about what works and what doesn’t? It’s rare, but it’s oh-so-effective, and it’s easy to do with the use of message boards, chat rooms and other social-networking venues.
4. Make supporters into heroes. It’s a simple message: “It’s all about the customer.” … Donors are people, and people love to be praised, cared for and made to feel special.
5. Make existing communication networks work for you. The Internet turns strangers into friends. Sites such as LinkedIn exploit these relationships. Place your message into existing communications, and your message goes out to one person’s broader network, which could consist of hundreds or thousands of people. Good marketers have long understood the power of these human networks and work to capitalize on them.
Steve Gershik is the director of marketing innovation at Eloqua Corp., a Toronto-based supplier of automated demand-generation applications and expertise for B-to-B marketers. Reach him at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared late last year in eM+C Weekly, the weekly e-letter of FundRaising Success sister publication eM+C.