Thought Leadership

Viral Marketing

Traditional marketers have always defined their approach by the Four P’s: People, Place, Price, and Product. Viral Marketing (VM), on the other hand, is the family of marketing techniques that make it easy – or automatic – for existing clients to refer new prospects.

Notes from the field:

Viral Marketing: The Buzz on Buzz

On television several years ago, there was a shampoo commercial that ended with the main character saying “And they told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on and so on”. While the ad copywriter probably didn’t know it, this simple line of dialog precisely defines the goal of Viral Marketing.The purpose of this white paper is to explain and demystify Viral Marketing (VM), as well as provide some practical thought-starters for traditional marketers.

Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing follows a traditional analytical path:

People: Each market segment is defined; not only who they are (demographics), but also how they make their purchase decisions.

Product: What does the product actually do, and what need does it satisfy? There are a number of other questions that also require analysis and decisions: How is it designed, what are the unique features, is there a service component to the product, what is the warranty? And of course, what is the price?

Promotion: How will the product be promoted to the people? Advertising? Media Relations? Coupons?

Place: Which channels should the product be sold through: Direct, retail, web, etc? Do the distribution channels vary by market segment?

Once these four attributes are analyzed and decisions made, then what remains is execution. Of course, the reality is a bit more complex, as better marketers assess the competition, reach back into product development and then forward into advertising, public relations, sales compensation plans, partnerships, and after-sales support.

It is not an either-or between traditional and viral marketing: traditional analysis is a prerequisite to a viral marketing strategy, in that it helps define the baseline on which to build, and ensures that no basics are overlooked.

Viral Marketing

Viral marketing can be defined as the family of marketing techniques that make it easy – or automatic – for existing customers to refer new prospects.

Viral marketing takes a fundamentally different approach than traditional marketing, and rests on three basic tenets:

  1. Customers who have already purchased – for whatever their reasons – are in the best position to identify others like themselves who may also be likely to purchase. Implication: Understanding what the product benefits are is less important than helping customers communicate these benefits to others.
  2. Every prospect or customer exists at a particular point on the relationship curve. Each purchaser moves from awareness, to preference, to commitment. A purchase is only made once the relationship is sufficiently strong. Therefore, the goal is to move prospects up the curve, and for those who have already committed, then to reinforce that commitment.
  3. VM recognizes that the word can be spread by anyone on the relationship curve, not just those who have already committed by purchasing. For example, a purchaser might be induced to tell ten people, while a prospect might be induced to tell five. Since there are many more prospects than customers, done properly, the marketing message can be spread dramatically. VM is characterized by a number of phrases: Tell a friend, Give to a friend, send to a friend. (And they told two friends, and so on and so on.)

What can a Viral Marketer build into the product that empowers the customer or prospect to share the news? The opportunities are unlimited, but here are a few of the places where this can be made to happen:

To read more and download the entire white paper, please fill in the form below:


Viral Marketing by 108Ideaspace