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Viral Marketing on a Shoe String Budget

Nov 18, 2007
A virus in the computer world, as defined by the American Heritage Science Dictionary, is a program that duplicates itself in a manner that is harmful to normal computer use. Most viruses work by attaching themselves to another program. The amount of damage varies; viruses may erase all data or do nothing but reproduce themselves. In the marketing world, the virus is viewed much differently. It is our little sentinel, carrying our sales message all over the global market. The anatomy of an internet marketing virus, and what makes it 'viral', is also completely different than a computer virus.

First, a computer virus relies on interaction between a defined set of variables. There is no gray area, just 1s and 0s. A marketing virus relies on triggering an emotional response from a human who interacts with the media. The level of favorable emotion triggered is directly related to the likelihood that the virus will spread. The more people that have a strong favorable emotion, the more quickly the virus will propagate through the social network.

One of my favorite viral marketing campaigns was Burger Kings "Subordinate Chicken". It created a wildly entertaining experience for visitors and was laced with a bit of controvers, creating the perfect recipe for rapid awareness. If we inspect the success factors of viral marketing campaigns, they can be broken into four key ingredients.

1. Access - The internet is the perfect medium for a viral marketing campaign. Things travel at the speed of light, cost per impression is essentially zero and the opportunity to provide a free experience for the user is possible. The campaign can be designed to have no barrier to entry.
2. Ease of transfer - Through email, communication and transfer of the virus is simple and rapid. Blogs and social networking sights increase the distribution points for the media.
3. Universal bait - The value of the content is measured by the perception of the people subjected to the virus. If the bait being used to lure a user to interact with the media is of high value, the more proud the user will be to pass it along to others in their network.
4. Favorable emotional response - A negative response can also create a viral effect, however, as learned by the Subordinate Chicken site, enough negative responses can stop the spread.

By including these key ingredients into the design of a viral marketing campaign, a very low cost sales message can be spread all over the world.
About the Author
To investigate a new viral marketing tool that I've discovered, Click Here

Brett Nordin is a business consultant and entrepreneur with a passion for various business topics including sales, marketing and business development.
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