viral marketingYou’ve probably seen or heard of those campaigns that got a ton of people in just a few hours watching they’re video or reading a blog post.

Viral marketing doesn’t have to be about big numbers, it can also be small. In fact lots of small campaigns or ripples can make up one large ripple if maintained consistently.

Why are some viral marketing campaigns a success and others a failure ?

Well, like all marketing there are things that you can do that will increase the probability of a campaign being successful and the best way to learn is from real live examples.

Unlike the headline numbers all viral campaigns start with just a small number as Cindy Gordon, vice president of new media and marketing partnerships at Universal Orlando Resort demonstrated when she launched The Wizarding World of Harry Potter with just 7 people and ended up 350 million people being exposed to this launch over a short time frame.

Those seven people told tens of thousands.

Mainstream media listened to those tens of thousands and wrote about the news in their newspaper and magazine articles, in TV and radio reports, and in blog posts.

Eventually 350 million people from around the world had heard the news that Universal Orlando Resort was creating The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park all because off 1 event and 7 people.

You can read more about that story from David Meerman Scott here.

So what does this tell us about a successful Viral Marketing campaign ?

Firstly Cindy had a clear idea of the Buyer Persona, the traits of the individual how would be truly interested in this product launch and she told her story to those interested in the market. You must get to know your market intimately.

The old rules of marketing and sales meant you had to beg, buy and badger your way into peoples lives. The new rules are more sophisticated and mean you earn attention by positioning and publishing useful and engaging content. On the web you are what you publish.

Its all about people, the people that buy, influence, make and sell, yet companies forget that and think they own the market and can do whatever they like, that’d dangerous especially when news travels so fast. So when people do amazing things that promote your brand you should reciprocate, however this story about 3M hi-jacking a cool stunt known as the post-it note jaguar clearly demonstrates businesses are struggling with this concept.

Stop being boring and encourage people to share and care. Nobody cares about your products or services except you so leave out that technobabble and canned corporate retorts and start showing theirs real people that speak your buyers language. It’s scary but you’ve got to let go.

The last obstacle is one that affects the human race in many ways and that’s FEAR. Stop avoiding the need for change and the never ending stream of excuses. You’ve got nothing to loose except your perception of control.

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