Small Business Marketing Unleashed: Viral Marketing

    April 22, 2008

Jennifer Laycock, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Guide gave a presentation about viral marketing.

(Coverage of the Small Business Marketing Unleashed conference continues at WebProNews Videos.  Keep an eye on WebProNews for more notes and videos from the event this week.)

Jennifer Laycock, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Guide
Jennifer Laycock

Viral marketing is content designed to build a buzz. Laycock said, " The good thing about viral marketing is it’s cheap." It works because people distrust ads and they trust friends or strangers in online communities.

The challenge of viral marketing is the idea. "Any idea won’t do, it must be something worth talking about," Laycock said. Create brand evangelists by giving people a reason to talk about your product. A sense of importance will increase credibility.

When creating an idea keep in mind what sparks passion in your customers and if it has done before along with the audiences willingness to risk their reputation. Laycock said," Ideas spread because they are important to the spreader, not the originator."

Use existing networks, "You have to know where your target market is hanging out," Laycock said. Be familiar with the places they visit like discussion forums and blogs.

There are a number of types of campaigns to consider. Using humor has universal appeal, spreads quickly and leaves a positive association with your brand. The down side is it can be tough to sell to the executive crowd.

If you use breaking news have it first and say it best. The negative is it can take a lot of time and may not be a good match for your brand.

 Start a debate by offering a friendly challenge, if done properly it can help you gain respect.

Avoid using an attack campaign, instead be a resource that educates and informs. You can also use a fear campaign, which can be a motivator.

Offer free things but only to "key influencers" as it can impact your bottom line.

Make a campaign personal by appealing to people’s egos.

You can get the word out by emailing friends and colleagues, using search engines to find sites related to your topic and using blog search.

Laycock said," Understand what matters to small businesses."

WebProNews Video anchor Abby Prince contributed to this report.