We have covered in the last four newsletters several important aspects of marketing. Branding and telling your story, understanding the importance of new media and the world of web 2.0, one of the most important web 2.0 marketing channels social networking and the importance of your internet presence through search engine optimization. As we continue to talk about the many ways to utilize the internet to market your products and services I thought that it was important to discuss viral marketing next.

Viral marketing can be defined as a marketing phenomenon that facilitates and encourages people to pass along a marketing message. Viral marketing is a modern technique which utilizes the power and popularity of online social networks to enhance brand awareness. As with Social Media Marketing, the essence of this technique is harnessing the power of the internet and using self replicating processes which encourage people to pass on marketing messages in a voluntary fashion.

Viral Marketing is found through existing social networks and is most frequently done through the use of:
• Online Video Clips
• Advergames
• Online Images
• SMS Text Messages

Some of the viral marketing techniques the typical business website can deploy now include:

Encourage Links to Your Site

You can do a number of things to encourage links to your site. Register with search engines, of course, and seek reciprocal links. Here are some approaches designed to set up an exponential response to your efforts.

Write articles and encourage other to post them free as content for their site. If you're an expert in a particular area, write an article about an aspect of it. Then offer it to complementary sites to post on their site as free content, so long as the article contains links to your site. Your article could go far and wide, especially if it is carried on the wings of e-mail to others who will distribute the same article to their network of contacts.

Set up an affiliate program to encourage links to your products. Affiliate programs are a form of network marketing that provides financial incentive for other sites to link to yours. Make sure you pay enough to make this attractive to already-saturated siteowners.

Send out news releases concerning a free service or product available on your site. The key here is to have a truly newsworthy event, contest, free service, or digital download. If your news release is carried by just 5% of the media you send it to, you could have your URL in front of tens of thousands of readers quite inexpensively.

Best selling author and agent of change Seth Godin, wrote this distinction for viral marketing in one of his blogs, I thought it clearly articulated the importance and distinction of this most important marketing tool. “Word of mouth is a decaying function. A marketer does something and a consumer tells five or ten friends. And that's it. It amplifies the marketing action and then fades, usually quickly. A lousy flight on United Airlines is word of mouth. A great meal at Momofuku is word of mouth.

Viral marketing is a compounding function. A marketer does something and then a consumer tells five or ten people. Then they tell five or ten people. And it repeats. And grows and grows. Like a virus spreading through a population. The marketer doesn't have to actually do anything else. (They can help by making it easier for the word to spread, but in the classic examples, the marketer is out of the loop.) The Mona Lisa is an ideavirus.

This distinction is vital.

For one thing, it means that constant harassment of the population doesn't increase the chances of something becoming viral. It means that most organizations should realize that they have a better chance with word of mouth (more likely to occur, more manageable, more flexible) and focus on that. And it means, most of all, that viral marketing is like winning the lottery, and if you've got a shot at an ideavirus, you might as well over-invest and do whatever it takes to create something virus-worthy.”

Author's Bio: 

Nicole Mckinney's marketing and communications firm bcad Group specializes in unique solutions dedicated to building and creating brands. We believe business strategy is marketing strategy. Our job as a marketing group is to connect. We want to work with our partners to build marketing and branding practices around ideas that drive business opportunitites. By working with our business partners sharing risk and reward, we strive to bring cultural insights, communication processes and products together with an entrepreneurial vision while manufacturing expertise, distribution might and R&D skills to develop a business idea. Ultimately we are building upon ideas and creating the channels, the strategy and the pathways to fortify relationships with each and every person in a way that is meaningful and mindful of how they live their lives.

Nicole’s PR, marketing and communications experience and expertise is focused around brand development. She produces memorable (WOW! Comment from satisfied clients.) projects that assist in growing a brand.

Her passion is rooted in brand strategy development, communications, and marketing program development, competitive analysis, sponsorships, publicity, web-site development and production, events and product launches.

Her flair is in strategy and execution to transform products and services into a powerful brand, to create cohesive objectives to reach target markets and to strategically position the brand in the competitive market place.

We have the opportunity as women to use our understanding and day to day experience to create marketing and brand strategies that recognize that women are individuals. The market place is now keenly aware of the power of purchasing and decision making that this most important target market wields. We aim to assist our partners and clients with intelligent ways to speak to the various "personas" of this target market by making sure that these clients build social networking and new media channels as a way to build relationships and educate their customers while creating a community of customers that can build relationships with one another. While the internet presence for most companies is now common place, creating the communities that this most important target market now dominate has yet to reach a tipping point where social media now has a key role in all marketing campaigns. bcad Group our woman owned and run marketing and communications firm, believes our expertise, innovation and creativity in this most important marketing channel can bring a fresh perspective.