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Marketing Through Viral Marketing

Viral Marketing refers to marketing that spreads itself. There is nothing dishonest about the practice, though it is often misused. Learn how to make it work right for your business.

Viral marketing sounds nasty, but it is actually one of the great processes of the 21st century, which is becoming refined and applied more creatively all the time. It is often misused, so you must be careful to only use honorable tactics, but when used correctly, can develop power exponentially.

Viral marketing is built on a couple of concepts:

  1. When you reach all of the people within your own sphere of influence, you can build a comfy little Mom and Pop business. When you take that one step further, and each person you contact reaches people within THEIR sphere of influence, the numbers explode in a much bigger potential.
  2. If you provide incentives, most people are willing to do a bit of marketing for you in exchange for something you give them or do for them.
  3. If you think creatively, you can figure out some kind of incentive to offer for almost any business.

Viral marketing consists of using other people to spread your marketing message far beyond the scope of your own reach. Affiliate marketing is perhaps the best known form of this, multiple tier programs especially; Digital products, eBooks, Link Exchanges, Certain types of Freebies, MLM marketing, Article Marketing, Forwardable eZines, and Chain Letters are all forms of viral marketing. Chain letters are the one item in this list that are not ethical, and that are never used by legitimate businesses.

But lets explore how some of the other methods work, so you can understand the concepts that make them work. Once that is understood, you can come up with an idea to spread your own business in a way that does not cost you heavily.

Affiliate Marketing is Viral Marketing

Affiliate marketing is effective for many businesses because it compensates other people for reaching people within their sphere. When you pay only for sales, you only pay for results, so the cost of advertising is well contained. The real power of affiliate marketing comes from a multi-tier system. That means that for each person that signs up with you, you pay a certain commission on sales. Then you also pay them a commission on sales generated by anyone that signs up as an affiliate under them. This has far more power than a single level program, because your affiliates not only sell your product, they sell your affiliate program as well. The program has the potential to perpetuate itself far beyond the people who would normally come in contact with your business.

Distributorships and MLM marketing were the original concept behind all this. They have been so badly misused, and dishonorably sold though, that it can be quite difficult to succeed with one. They originated the concept of compensation on the sales of your downline though. True Multi Level Marketing is a form of viral marketing. In other words, marketing with an incentive built in to perpetuate itself.

True Power Of Viral Marketing

I believe that the true power of viral marketing goes deeper than these common concepts though, and it is being applied in many ways across the web, and through offline tactics. Here are how some of those work:

Digital Products – From webinars to downloads and memberships, digital products are great to market with viral marketing. Today, social media is tremendous help with viral marketing. Creating a Meme or a video that catches people’s attention to the point that they can’t help but share it with their circle of influence – friends and family, or work colleagues. Then they propagate it through their circles and so on it becomes “viral”. If done right this can boost your business out of the ball park like nothing else.

eBooks – Giving away an eBook can show your expertise in a specific field. Giving away an eBook with the right of the recipient to give it away, means that it may spread far and wide. Because if you give someone something they can place as a download or incentive on their site, you have given them something of value. Just make sure that every copy contains your URL and contact information, and a description of what you do, and it becomes self-perpetuating advertising. Make sure your content is actually valuable though, a glorified ad will be of value to no one.

Freebies – There are all kinds of freebies on the web. Some have more value than others. And some are easier to use for marketing than others. Ideally, the best freebies for marketing are

  1. Able to have a URL printed on them or embedded in them.
  2. Replicatable so that you can offer them unlimited times without it costing you more.
  3. Free to pass on so that anyone who receives it and likes it can give it to someone else.
  4. Genuinely valuable so that people will WANT to get it, and want to offer it as a freebie themselves.

So don’t just post a freebie on your site, figure out how that freebie can work for you long after it leaves your site, without being obnoxious to the recipient. Images can be watermarked, clipart can be created and posted for use with the stipulation that they link back to you on any page they use it on, entire websites or sections can be replicatable in return for link placements, RSS feeds can be branded, services can be traded for links, etc

Articles – Post articles for free use by others, on the condition that your signature remain intact. In fact, you can put a notice in the signature line when you post them on your own site that states this, so if others post it on THEIR site, it is available for reprinting there too. If you post them on certain forums for exchange you won’t be able to do that, but they will reach a good market usually anyway. Again, it MUST be more than just a glorified ad, or it won’t get passed on.

eZines & Newsletters – eZines still exist! And they can become a form of viral marketing when they contain the notice at the bottom that the eZine may be forwarded intact to anyone. Taking it one step further, you can put a notice on articles that you write for it that invites people to reprint the article with the signature line intact.

Discounts – Discounts can be used as a means of spreading the word. Digital coupon codes, QR Codes, Printed Coupons. If you include extra business cards with a discount printed on the back with each order that you fill for your customers, and invite them to share those cards, then your business is advertised to their acquaintances also.

Invitations – Any time you advertise a special event, sale, or new product, include an invitation to your customers to forward the email or ad to their friends or even photocopy the  printed flyer and pass it on. You can offer an incentive with this if you like – “Bring a friend and get a free gift”. But make sure you can track and process the incentive accurately.

Use Viral Marketing Right

If you use it right, viral marketing has tremendous power. It is best when applied creatively to your site, and when it provides a truly useful product or service to others. The great thing about the web is that it is worth it to spend hours creating a good marketing incentive program, because once it is set up, it runs virtually on auto-pilot. It may take you weeks to produce a good quality eBook, or several days to write a really good article. But once it is done, it goes on working for you over and over with no real additional cost per person. An affiliate program will go on working for you with a monetary cost only when someone buys, and a distributorship, when set up intelligently, will go on replicating itself with very little ongoing cost. Images and articles will go out across the world into places you could not imagine, far beyond the few minutes you spent uploading them.

Make sure you never abuse your customer’s confidence, and never become obnoxious about it. Viral marketing is based on value earned for value given, just as anything else is. The web just makes it very easy to give good value over and over. Somewhere in your business, there is something you can give as a marketing incentive. Do it creatively and generously, and it will come back to you many times over.

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