Mysterious Underground Marketing: What is viral marketing – and how does it affect your business and career?
Viral marketing (also called buzz marketing) encourages word of mouth, or “buzz,” by giving your prospect something exciting or valuable to share with others. That “something” can be vital information, a special offer, or a preview of your useful products or services.
The Potential for Exponential Growth
Facebook represents the classic viral marketing success story. In an 18-month period, this Internet service provider gained 120 million subscribers – much of that growth attributed to the simple inclusion of the opportunity to add a friend. The phenomenal success of The Hangover started from buzz. You can take steps to create your own “buzz” for your business and/or job search.
If you’re focusing online, you might think about creating a buzz among your current clients – offering an incentive to a segment of your book (a gift) if they forward this valuable information or offer to three friends who must respond back to you (and no more than three, and only from the initial e-mail).
Personalize the subject line of the e-mail message, to show that it’s friendly. For example: “ADV: Jim Wanted You to Know About Me.” So Jim’s friend sees this is an advertisement, and that his friend Jim has referred your services.
If you’re prospecting for new business in your community, write down a list of niche “communities” that might be interested in your services. Then select 5-6 communities you’d like to create a buzz about yourself in. Some examples: firefighters, coastal millionaires, golfers, retirees, families with children on the verge of college. Be sure to include the media outlets that target these communities, from trade magazines to websites to radio and TV.
Ask people in these communities how word of mouth spreads. Through what marketing channels do they learn about things that are of direct interest to them? Which marketing channels or media outlets carry the most credibility with them?
Write a series of press releases or e-mail or direct mail messages to succinctly explain what you do and the benefit. If you’re aiming to meet prospects in person, make it as easy as possible for them to meet you and learn what you have to offer – that means going to tradeshows, conventions, community fairs and the places where these communities congregate. You can speak there; you can disseminate information or have a workshop as part of the day’s schedule.
If this seems like a lot of work, you could always do viral market the subtle way – just by placing a viral marketing offer in every relevant outgoing email message, which can effectively broaden the reach of your marketing messages over time.
A World of Prospects Watches You
A 2009 study by Opinion Research Corporation International claims that each person who has a positive or negative online experience with you will eventually share that experience with an average of 12 others. That means every client … every prospect … every colleague. So, make sure that your website is as user-friendly and information-rich as possible … and consider the channels your clients use to communicate with one another. If you’re losing business or getting low returns on e-mail marketing, for example, your website or e-mail communications may be having a negative viral effect. Some viruses are worth spreading. Good, thoughtful viral marketing can bring you new business for comparatively little cost.
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Mark Montoya has been working in personal branding for more than a decade for hundreds of online and offline companies, small businesses and individual service professionals. His focus has been toward improving the way jobseekers find employment on the Internet. He has synthesized his expertise by helping job seekers obtain their ideal choice of employment over the Internet on his sites MyOnlineCareerSpace.com and MyOnlineCareerCoach.com, and through his books 101 Tips Every Job Seeker Should Know and The Ultimate Online Job Search eBook.
“It is the responsibility of the individual to reject the prospect of mediocrity and to strive for the betterment of society as a whole” ~ Mark Montoya