Viral marketing offers interesting possibilities


“Viral marketing” -- sounds like something we should get shots for! After all, who likes a virus of any kind? The answer: Anyone who has successfully used viral marketing to increase their business.

The term Viral Marketing is attributed to Professor Jeffrey Rayport at Harvard Business School. He was describing a strategy that essentially encourages individuals to pass along a marketing message to others, thus creating possible exponential growth in the message's reach and influence. This sort of thing was once called “word-of-mouth” or “creating a buzz.” But on today’s Internet, the simple assumption that people will share interesting and entertaining content is a virus that can literally spread overnight.
Moreover, it can work for business.

For example, in a recent issue of Fortune Small Business, Jennifer Alsever (“Puree a Rake for Fun and Profit”) reported on the success Blendtec of Orem, Utah, has had with viral marketing. It seems the Blendtec CEO was product-testing by shoving two-by-two boards into their blender at full speed. Before long, the Blendtec marketing manager, George Wright, spend $50 on a white lab coat and various other items, including a garden rake. CEO Tom Dickson donned the lab coat and began blending the rake, a 12 pack of Coke, marbles, among other things, with a video camera rolling. The short videos were posted on YouTube and the series called “Will It Blend?” It became the 33rd most-viewed series ever on YouTube. (Now on their own site: More important, sales for the firm’s $399 consumer blender increased 500 percent last year.

Unlike other forms of advertising, online videos can be posted free on video-sharing sites like YouTube or Dailymotion. They don’t have to be as wacky as Blendtec’s, but the more entertaining the better. After all, the goal is to have lots of viewers passing it along to lots more viewers!

Information can also be a solid basis for videos. For example, last year Sierra Snowboard of Sacramento, Calif., posted “How to Wax a Snowboard” on YouTube. The video showed an employee talking to the camera and demonstrating each step of waxing a board. Snowboarders flocked to it more than 117,000 times!

Michael Miller, author of “YouTube 4 You” says the videos should be kept simple with limited movement and people on camera. Good videos average two to three minutes. “One person talking in front of a webcam is fine if doing something interesting,” says Miller.

Bottom line: With little or no cost, any business can get into the viral marketing game with a $300 video camera and a good idea(s). Perhaps, producing and posting a few videos could be a real team builder in your dealership. I can imagine a lot of people having a lot of fun with it. And, possibly, it could be a real profit builder, too.