Unless we find a cost-effective way to get our message out, we are doomed. We can no longer survive by interrupting strangers with a nuance of messages about a product they’ve never heard of, using techniques that annoy them.

Folks have too little time and too much power to stand for this much longer therefore we need new ways to promote our business.

Viral marketing is an idea that spreads–and an idea that while it is spreading actually helps market your business or cause.

There are two kinds of viral marketing: The original viral marketing is the product where a self-amplifying cycle occurs. Hotmail, for example, or YouTube. The more people use them, the more people see them. The more people see them, the more people use them. The product or service must be something that improves once more people use it.

A second kind has evolved over the last few years, and that’s a marketing campaign that spreads but isn’t the product itself for example: a poster of Barack Obama was everywhere, because people chose to spread it. It was viral and it was marketing (because it made an argument–a visual one–for a candidate.)  Viral_marketing_principles_size485

It took 40 years for radio to have ten million users. It took 15 years for TV to have ten million users. It only took 3 years for Netscape to get to 10 million, and it took Hotmail and Napster less than a year.


Why should we care?  Because you don’t have to wait for a viral idea to happen organically or accidentally. You can plan for it, and make it happen.


In the old days we’d run ads, interrupt people with unanticipated, impersonal, irrelevant ads and hope that they’d buy something. And sometimes they would. For the most part this old way is becoming obsolete and new rules of marketing are taking shape.


Instead of causing one-way interruption, marketing is now about delivering content at just the precise moment your audience needs it.


Fortunately, there are already proven techniques you can use to identify, launch and profit from ideas that can be turned into viruses. There’s a right and a wrong way to create them, and more important, the care and feeding of your idea can dramatically affect its potency.


The key steps to building a virus are:

  1. Create a noteworthy online experience that’s either totally new or makes the user’s life much better. Or make an offline experience better/faster/cheaper so that switching isn’t worth the hassle.
  2. Have the idea behind your online experience go viral, bringing you a large chunk of the group you’re targeting WITHOUT having to spend a fortune advertising the new service.
  3. Fill the vacuum in the marketplace with YOUR version of the idea, so that competitors now have a very difficult time of un-teaching your virus and starting their own.
  4. Achieve “lock in” by creating larger and larger costs to switching from your service to someone else’s.
  5. Get permission from users to maintain an ongoing dialogue so you can turn the original attention into a beneficial experience for users and an ongoing profit stream for you.
  6. Continue creating noteworthy online experiences to further spread new viruses, starting with your core audience of raving fans.


It’s Possible To Dramatically Increase The Chances Your Idea Will Catch On And Spread.images


This is the great part. Once you understand the fundamentals behind the development of a viral idea, you can unleash your own.


Just because viral ideas usually spread through unknown means or accidental events doesn’t mean that there isn’t a science to building and managing them.


You can invest in designing your product to make it virus worthy. Then if you understand the eight elements of the viral formula, you increase your chances of spreading your idea every step along the way, therefore:



  1. 1.      Make it virus worthy. If it’s not worth talking about, it won’t get talked about.


  1. 2.      Identify the tribe. You won’t get the full benefit of a viral idea until you dominate your tribe.


  1. 3.      Expose the idea. Expose it to the right people, and do whatever you need to do to get those peopled deep into the experience of the idea as quickly as possible. Pay them if necessary, especially at the beginning. NEVER charge for exposure if you can help it.


  1. 4.      Figure out what you want the sneezers to say. You’ve got to decide what you want the sneezers to say to the population. If you don’t decide, either they’ll decide for you and say something less than optimal, or they won’t even bother to spend the time.


  1. 5.      Give the sneezers the tools they need to spread the virus. After you’ve got a potential sneezer, make it easy for him to spread the idea. Give him a way to send your idea to someone else with one click. Let me join your affiliate program in sixty seconds or less. Reward the people I spread the virus to, so I don’t feel guilty for spreading it.


  1. 6.      Once the consumer has volunteered his attention, get permission. The goal of marketer is to use the virus to get attention, then to build a more reliable, permanent chain of communication so that further enhancements and new viruses can be launched faster and more effectively, under your control this time.


  1. 7.      Amaze your audience so that they will reinforce the virus and keep it growing. Where are the Cabbage Patch Kids? Why do some viruses burn out more quickly than others? The simplest reason is that marketers get greedy and forget that a short-term virus is not the end of the process, it’s the beginning. By nurturing the attention you receive, you can build a self reinforcing virus that lasts and lasts and benefits all involved.


  1. Admit that few viruses last forever. Embrace the lifecycle of the virus. Cats was a terrific success on Broadway. But even great shows don’t last forever. By understanding that the needs of the virus change over time (and that the benefits received change as well) the marketer can match expenditures to the highly leveraged moments.


I look forward to your comments as well as the results of my search for the “Secrete Viral Formula”



Filed under: Viral Marketing

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!