Friday, 8 December 2006

Word of Mouth: Good News Travels Fast

Man, marketers love to throw the whole word of mouth marketing thing around.

"let's create something viral!" is a typical client request (other wise known as, can we do something with an media placement budget of 0?)

Blech. I hate that term.

So the communication team gets forced to sit around and think about something we *think* people will want to pass around. And most of the time, the ideas are pretty dumb.

A friend of mine told me of a classic story of an agency pitch for a office supply company. The suit in the room who shall remain nameless suggested doing a targeted campaign towards office managers. After all they are the ones who order the products. Here's where the smarty-pants viral part comes in. The concept was a micro site where the target market would watch some brand/product experience and in return would get a coupon for dinner at some fine chain food restaurant. And the strategists pièce de résistance was the suggestion to include a viral component where the person could link to a "send to friend" feature thus also giving their little site more exposure by means of viral marketing....

Wow. That's smart. Target office managers and what? Hope that the friend they send the site to is also an office manager? Cuz we know that office managers have their own association and can often been found on Friday evenings drinking together and wildly discussing the latest sale on photocopier paper. (her comment to this concern was to have a 'survey' so that the non-office managers would get something other than dinner - oh good cuz we know pple don't lie and wouldn't figure THAT out)

The rule to viral is pretty simple. Good news travels fast. Look at what happened to Amazon. They were giving away really cheap Xboxes and so many people found out about it that they crashed Amazon's servers trying to get one. And trust me, if there is a special Radiohead concert that secretly gets announced (um...and yes please send me an email to my address), the tickets will be sold out in 5 minutes flat.

Whether your good news is about a great product, a deal, a special event, a really funny commercial whatever, the key here is it has to be good. And heck, if you are going to be good, why not go all out and try for great?

And, if it's great? You can bet, I'll be telling my friends.


Mark said...

Viral marketing = Word of mouse.

And the moment people figure out that it's been engineered by The Suits, it's like injecting Tamiflu into the viral campaign.

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