Have you heard of “viral marketing”? It means creating something that customers want to pass along. Seth Godin called it the Idea Virus, and he used the concept to promote his book of the same name. He gave away a free download of the e-book version at his web site, http://www.ideavirus.com/ and he encouraged people to let others know about it.
Godin believed that some of the people who got the free download would end up buying the book (perhaps because they didn’t want to read the entire book onscreen or use their paper and toner to print it out). And, he was right. The first print run sold out quickly.
You may not want to give away an entire book, but there are lots of ways you can get the word out about your company or a new product, especially online.
Create something funny, informative, interesting or just cool, and start by telling your friends and customers about it. If it is truly funny, informative, interesting or cool, they will tell their friends, who will tell their friends, who will tell . . . you get the idea.
What should it be? Consider posting a short film or animation at your web site. Offer e-cards (online greeting cards visitors can send from your site). Write a poem or top 10 list and e-mail it to your friends. Create a song that can be streamed or downloaded.
To get the most benefit, make your viral marketing item relevant to your business. If you want to use it to build a mailing list, it should be a download that people only get after they register at your web site. Keep in mind that many people are still using dial-up connections, so make sure your downloads are optimized for slow connections.