It’s said that in order to sell something to someone, they must know you, like you, and trust you. The know-like-trust combination is time-consuming to implement as a marketing strategy. It requires building one-on-one relationships with your customers; getting introductions to prospects, finding common ground with them, and establishing a level of trust. This process can be considerably sped up when the quality of your goods or service is recommended from friend to friend. Friends recommending your business to friends is called word-of-mouth marketing, and viral marketing is word-of-mouth marketing on steroids.
Social networking is what powers viral marketing. Let’s say that you make custom jewelry, and you create a video of how to make a bracelet. The video includes your contact information. You send a link to the video to five of your prospects, who like it so each of them sends the link to five of their friends, and each of those five send the link to five of their friends. You have quickly gone three levels deep, and leveraged your five prospects to one hundred fifty five prospects. At ten levels deep, your sales message is presented to over twelve million people. Of course, no viral plan works geometrically like my example, but you get the point. The numbers can get very big very quickly, and it doesn’t cost you a dime.
Viral marketing is so successful because the potential customer is invited to look at your message instead of having your message shoved in their face. Advertising of the “shove it in your face” kind is called interruption marketing. Interruption marketing interrupts whatever the viewer is doing to present them with a sales message. Television and radio commercials, website pop-up ads, and big newspaper ads are all interruption marketing. A viral marketing strategy is exactly the opposite; it creates an online message that’s novel or entertaining enough to prompt consumers to pass it on to their friends.
Elements of a Successful Campaign
There are some basic elements of a good viral marketing campaign. A good viral marketing campaign should include all of the following:
1. Give something away. It should have genuine value (info products are good) be free, and have no strings attached.
2. It should be easily passed from one person to another, like in an email attachment.
3. People need a good reason to pass it along; it should be funny, cool, interesting, or make them look important.
4. Leverage the resources of other people; their websites, mailing lists, friends lists, etc.
A good viral marketing campaign can put your business into the stratosphere in a hurry.