The New Marketer - Viral Marketing Part 3 of 4
Add to del.icio.us
I'm going to throw my iPod in my Blendtec blender.
None of us can deny the iPod is a beautiful piece of technology. In fact some of us may even have emotional attachments to the iPod. It contains our favorite music, and that music makes us feel a certain way.
So when Tom Dickson founder of Blendtec painfully put his own iPod into his blender and filmed it, the impact was pretty amazing. Not just because of his connection to his iPod, but because Tom Dickson will blend just about anything to prove that his blender is the top of the line of blenders. Tom actually puts on an amazing online show called "will it blend". So far, Tom has blended golf balls, marbles, cubic zirconia, credit cards, Barbie dolls, a video camera ... and well, you get the picture.
So, what is so amazing about the fact that this man blends things? The amazing thing is that millions of people watch his videos. People from all over the world send him things to blend. The formula is simple, it's easy, its visual and people want to see it. After watching him blend several golf balls, after saying "that's cool", you also have to say, that's one tough blender!
The premise is simple, and we automatically understand it. There is nothing calculated or complicated. Tom's blender videos have gone viral. They are viewed millions of times on Youtube and on Blendtec's website. They are on blogs and other websites all over the Internet. And people just like you and me send our friends emails saying, "You have got to watch this guy". Check out this link as he blend as Apple iPhone, nearly 3.5 million views so far. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qg1ckCkm8YI
What is viral marketing? Viral marketing is an idea that is passed through the community much like a common cold. People simply pass along the virus and pretty soon its everywhere and everyone is talking about it. And once again it's usually the simplest ideas, the simplest concepts that work the best.
Visual ideas usually spread best. If the idea requires an effort by the audience, the chances of that idea going viral are small.
So if it's so simple, why don't more companies and major manufacturers incorporate viral marketing into their advertising? Many do try, but they are still bogged down by the old style of marketing. Marketers face a battle against a savvy ad-allergic audience. There is nothing worse than a big company trying to present a viral idea wrapped up in a slick production. Many companies have angered consumers by trying to trick the audience into believing that a skateboarder in a video just happened to be wearing a certain pair of shoes and just happened to fall in front of the camera with the logo bearing soles displayed at the perfect camera angle. Instead of building up goodwill, the consumer will turn on that company and give them a public flogging.
What are some of the key elements needed to create a true viral marketing campaign?
· There has to be enough of a back-story, it has to be something that the consumer is going to understand and be able to identify with.
· Curiosity is a major factor. There has to be a curiosity element involved. Not the same old cliché used over and over. Notice how when there is one good commercial on TV, suddenly all of the other ad agencies jump on it and begin producing commercials with the same format. You need to keep people guessing, where there preconceived ideas are challenged.
· Curiosity is very important, but it is only half of the formula. You need to deliver, there has to be an effective punch line. What good is a joke that gets you hooked and then doesn't deliver at the end? We all feel like we've wasted our time.
· The idea needs to be easy to deliver and to be passed to others. The idea needs to be tempting.
· The idea needs to come from a reliable source. This is why idea viruses are usually spread so quickly. Viruses are spread by word of mouth and friends emailing friends about their new find.
· Visual ideas appeal to the audience. If your audience has to invest a lot of time to comprehend the idea, then most likely your viral campaign will fail.
This is not to say that ALL viral marketing ideas that involve some interaction with the audience will fail. There have been some great viral ideas that have been extremely successful, and that is because of the masterful story telling done by the marketer.
Consider the Blair Witch Project, which costs $22,000 to make, yet grossed $248 million dollars. The marketing behind the Blair Witch Project was masterful. Hale and Monello (the creators of the Blair Witch Project) made us question whether this film was "truth or myth". Online, they started blogs and website forums that fed the audience bits and pieces of the Blair Witch mythology. Items such as police reports, and lost pages from the missing students diaries were posted. They also cut a deal with the Sci Fi channel to run a one-hour pseudo-documentary on the authenticity of the Blair Witch.
To keep the fervor alive until the film was released, they would release more and more of the story yet strategically hiding important details. Soon the media was buzzing about the film, and radio hosts and newspapers began discussing the authenticity of the Blair Witch.
A beautiful viral campaign was run by creating months of back-story, creating a community where one did not previously exist and creating an ongoing element of curiosity, which they painstakingly escalated until the films release.
All of the examples of viral marketing involve curiosity and the anticipation of a rewarding delivery at the end. You cannot force feed viral marketing on your audience. Make sure your ideas are simply, easy to understand, are familiar and that they deliver the goods at the end! A good showman always leaves his audience wanting more.
Copyright 2008 FMWebschool Inc. http://www.fmwebschool.com Written by Stephen Knight