Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Turbo-Charge Your Viral Marketing- Five Easy Ways

By Thomas Murrell MBA CSP, International Business Speaker

The world of marketing has changed. With increasingly better educated and more skeptical consumers, marketing methods must be increasingly accountable.

Questions being asked by CEOs and business owners from the largest companies through to the smallest solo operators include:
· How can you be more confident about your ability to quantify your return on your marketing investment?
· How can you prove the effectiveness of your marketing?
· How can you define, measure and take action on your return on investment?
· How can you match your marketing to meet your corporate goals and expectations?
· How can you predict what would happen to sales if the marketing budget were cut?
· How can you forecast the impact of your marketing program on your sales?
· How can you integrate modern marketing methods into your existing marketing plans?
· How can you convince your boss that marketing does deliver measurable results?
· How can you convince your boss to increase and not decrease your marketing budget?

One of the emerging tools that answers these questions is viral marketing. Viral marketing describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message's exposure and influence

Word of mouth marketing and personal referrals or recommendations from peers are the most powerful marketing tools. Email and the Internet have extended this by providing technology that induces Web sites or users to pass on a marketing message to other sites or users, creating a potentially exponential growth in the message's visibility and effect.

A sort of word of mouse!

And this is easily measured through using web statistics and sales data. So how do you get results by your customers, clients, subscribers or program members promoting your service for you?

Here are five easy ways to turbo-charge your viral marketing efforts and quickly spread enthusiasm about your product or service.

1. Collaborate With Thought-leaders In Select "Communities" of Influence

The more influential the group and aligned with your target market, the more likely you are to have success. This requires research, communication and understanding of your target market and affiliated, or potentially affiliated, businesses.

2. Offer An Incentive

Most people are motivated by rational self-interest. Offer something they really want like a holiday, free knowledge or education, discounts, or package deals. Just as your company will benefit from their involvement, offer a benefit in return.

3. Follow-up With A Personal Approach

Relationships are always strengthened by personal interaction. Often your emailed expression of interest or offer may be one of thousands received daily by a company. A follow up phone-call or meeting will develop a more personal relationship and strengthen your company's involvement. This also allows time to negotiate with the company directly and better identify with their needs.

4. Make It Immediate

Viral marketing works when you consider news values such as drama, consequence and immediacy. Be aware of what's happening in the community and the world and try to tie in with recent dramas.

An example of effective viral marketing in the wake of the London bombings is demonstrated by the following email widely distributed around the world:

"Hi All,
Don't usually forward emails but thought this may be a good idea.
Following the disaster in London . . .
East Anglican Ambulance Service have launched a national "In case of Emergency (ICE ) " campaign with the support of Falklands war hero Simon Weston.
The idea is that you store the word " I C E " in your mobile phone Address book, and against it enter the number of the person you would want to be contacted "In Case of Emergency".
In an emergency situation ambulance and hospital staff will then be able to quickly find out who your next of kin are and be able to contact them.
It's so simple that everyone can do it. Please do.
Please will you also email this to everybody in your address book, it won't take too many 'forwards' before everybody will know about this. It really could save your life, or put a loved one's mind at rest.
For more than one contact name ICE1, ICE2, ICE3 etc."
By acting on the incident, viral marketing has spread this message quickly, and cheaply, around the globe.

5. Make It Interesting To Create Buzz

We have become rather immune to a number of tactics commonly used to generate attention. Spam emails, free offers etc. are often overlooked in a sea of similar materials received daily. Always think outside the box in order to make and impact.

A good example of this is the recent US made TV commercial featuring Paris Hilton for a burger chain.

PR expert Don Crowther said recently "it cost the chain eight to ten million dollars to air the commercial, plus, probably another million or two in production, Paris's fees, and website production fees.

But what did it do for sales? Same store sales revenues at Carl's Jr. increased only 1.7%, at Hardee's just 0.7%.
Sounds like a great investment to me - Spend 8 to 12 million dollars, get back $1.1 million in sales."

On positive side Don adds "the ad has generated a significant amount of controversy, a reported 802% increase in web searches (though I seriously question how many people were coming to the Carl's Junior and Hardee's sites before...), 4 million hits on the spicyparis website, free showings on news shows, several petitions against it, and some franchisers refusing to run the ad.

So, unquestionably, it generated buzz."

Whether scandal, drama or incentives are being utilised it is important to capitalise in order to make your viral marketing effective, measurable and noticed.

For more information visit http://www.8mmedia.com/.

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