Viral Marketing Vanquishes Viewer Boredom

Sell It Online by Word of Mouth!

Viral marketing is the fine art of saying something so interesting, outlandish or outrageous that people forward it to their friends.

Recipe 1: Add Sex and Stir!

Sex sells — or at least grabs our attention. Think outside the box. If you can think of ways that your product or service connects to or enhances people’s sex lives, go for it!

Example: A dentist capitalized on this notion by writing a booklet: Healthy Mouth, Healthy Sex. People told their friends, and her business skyrocketed.

Recipe 2: Break Expectations!

Humor grabs our attention — and thrusts us into the unexpected. If you can think of strange, even ludicrous ways of using your product or service, people who find it funny will tell their friends.

Example: Blenders are for food, right? Not on YouTube, where “Does it Blend?” has become so iconic that it has its own Wikipedia page. It started with a box of matches and progressed to credit cards, golf balls, a six-foot garden rake, iPhones and more. People contact this blender’s manufacturer to suggest things they want to see blended on YouTube.

Recipe 3: Exploit the Oh-My-God Factor!

Anything completely outlandish is a ripe candidate for viral marketing. Just make sure your name is spelled right!

Example: The challenge was to publicize a self-cleaning industrial toilet. The manufacturer took the notion of “floors so clean you can eat off them” to an outrageous level: It made a YouTube video of gorgeous models snorting lines of cocaine off their toilet seats. (Though I’m fairly sure they didn’t use real cocaine!)

For more about how to take advantage of viral marketing, read David Meerman Scott’s World Wide Rave and The New Rules of Marketing and PR. These three examples are from a presentation David gave at a luncheon meeting of the Women in Business Connection in Cambridge MA, January 2009.

—October 2009, Wyn Snow

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