Viral marketing campaigns are a great way to get your message out there. They are also a great way to get people talking about your product or service. Just remember that there is no “off” button to hit when a marketing campaign goes viral.
About Viral Marketing Campaigns
A viral marketing campaign is when you create something that people want to share with their friends and family. It can be a video, an article, or even just a picture. The goal is for the content to go viral and reach as many people as possible.
There are many different types of viral marketing campaigns that you can use for your business. One type of campaign is called the “challenge” campaign where you ask someone to do something in exchange for something else (usually free). Another type of campaign is called the “giveaway” campaign where you give away free products in exchange for shares on social media.
I’ve written before about the perils of successful viral marketing. On the surface, it appears that viral marketing is a GREAT way to get “free” marketing by creating enough “buzz” to elevate a marketing campaign from “ordinary” to “viral”.
The Problem with Viral Marketing Campaigns
One of the problems with a viral marketing campaign is how QUICKLY you lose control of the message. Once a message goes “viral” it takes on a life of its own. Like its namesake, a viral campaign mutates and adapts to the host. The message changes as it spreads. Often the end product may be little resemblance to the original marketing message.
This is what happened to Naomi Dunford. Naomi is a very smart cookie. She launched a successful viral marketing campaign to promote her business. She is niche marketing to very small businesses. When she posts articles those are the people she wants to attract as clients. In her words,
“I write a blog for IttyBiz owners and wannabes. I write for people who don’t know if they can justify the purchase of a printer. My readers cannot afford a thousand dollars an hour. They can’t afford a printer, for God’s sake.”
Tightly targeting your niche is the key
I think Naomi is a brilliant marketer because she’s practicing what I preach in my book Beyond the Niche. I recommend targeting a niche audience and that’s what Naomi is doing. As a result, she starts having a same conversations with her clients. Naomi recognized that if her current clients were stumped SEO, other potential clients are also scratching their head over the whole SEO thing.
That’s the best reason to choose a niche market products or services. It makes it SO much easier to develop other niche market products and services for your current clients/customers.
Naomi is making a MAJOR SALE. She’s selling an intangible (her marketing expertise) because:
- There is the potential for a long-term relationship between you and your customer.
- The consequences of making a purchasing mistake are high.
Naomi’s decision to sell an e-book is a “Minor Sale” product. The intention is to establish enough “trust” to enter into a Major Sale relationship. Prospective clients read Naomi’s blog, buy her book, see that she is, indeed the “real” thing and then eventually hire her.
Because she KNOWS her audience, she put a rock bottom price on her e-book. Her people are not ones who will spend $795 on a monthly membership site. She knows them and priced her e-book for them.
She also set up an AFFILIATE program so others can sell her e-book. Of course this will bring more paying clients into Naomi’s marketing practice. She set a generous sales commission and got a LOT of people promoting her e-book. All was well until Brian Clark over at Copyblogger wrote a review. Her e-book goes viral.
Viral Marketing Campaigns Nightmare
This is where Naomi’s marketing dream turns into a nightmare. Naomi didn’t just create an “information product”. She included unlimited support with the product.
When the marketing goes viral for her e-book, Naomi does what any sane business person would do. She stops selling the product. She doesn’t want to ruin her reputation by promising support she can’t provide. So she set an end date and stopped selling the product.
Unfortunately, the viral marketing machine is in full swing. Naomi is getting HAMMERED by people who want a piece of the action but didn’t learn about it until it was too late.
Be careful what you wish for when it comes to viral marketing. In my book Beyond the Niche I share that an effective advertising campaign can be the best thing, or the worst thing, that can happen to your business.
I learned this lesson the hard way. I once put a small business OUT of business by crushing them with too much business.
Viral marketing will expose any weaknesses you have in your business.
Last year, when I got slammed with a huge influx of business, I put my head down, worked through it. I emerged with a better business model. Unfortunately, some of my clients have chosen to “die” when faced with marketing success instead of “change”.
The moral to this story is that viral marketing has it’s down side as well as its upside. There is no “off” button to hit when a campaign goes viral.