Tag Archives: marketing

Going Viral Is Good For Business

The goal of any business owner interested in creating a successful viral marketing campaigns is to identify individuals or outlets with high Social Networking Potential (read “How Ford Got Social Marketing Right“) and create viral messages that appeal to this segment of the population.

Notable examples of viral marketing are “Ponzi schemes”, “Pyramid schemes” and multi-level marketing (MLM).  Today, they have been replaced by the likes of The Big Word Project, Will it Blend and The Mike O’Meara Show.

At the height of B2C (Business to Consumer) it seemed as if every startup had a viral component to its strategy, or at least claimed to have one. However, relatively few marketing viruses achieve success on a scale similar to Hotmail, widely cited as the first example of modern-day viral marketing.

Viral Marketing Defined

According to Wikipedia, viral marketing refers to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives (such as product sales) through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses. It can be word-of-mouth delivered or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet. Viral promotions may take the form of video clips, interactive Flash games, advergames, ebooks, brandable software, images, or even text messages.

Elements of Viral Marketing

A viral message has the ability to be forwarded on the Internet. An effective viral marketing strategy:

  • Give away products or services
  • Provides for effortless transfer to others
  • Scales easily from small to large
  • Exploits common motivations and behaviors
  • Utilizes existing communication networks
  • Takes advantage of others’ resources

YouTube is a great example of viral marketing. Due to a combination of elements (from timelines to inherent humor to the manner in which the clip is distributed), certain video clips on YouTube end up as “Viral Videos.” The name is an allusion to the manner in which diseases spread–these videos, like a new strain of flu virus, start out being shared among a few people. But, also like the same flu virus, as each person who has been exposed to the video continues to pass a link to it along, the videos rack up view counts and end up viral-like phenomena.

Here are 34 ways to use YouTube (and other video hosting services) for business.

Different methods of Viral Marketing

E-mail: One of the easiest and simplest methods is email. It can be in the form of articles or advertisements which are sent to a large number of people based on your mailing list and if it results in forwarding the mail to other friends or known persons then viral marketing occurs.

Web forms: Various forms are available on the web and if your click on them, you are asked to fill in certain details that might include e-mail addresses. You are prompted to send something to your friend and if you willingly pass it to others, it is viral marketing.

Blogs: An effective viral marketing can be done through blogs. The links or information contained on a blog can often be copied to some other blogs and this increases the reach. With numerous blogs published on the Internet, you can expand exponentially.

Forums and Messages: Sending links through different messages or forums can be considered to be another type of viral marketing. A link that is present in a forum or chat room can often lead to greater links to your website than you might even expect.

Bookmarking: Allowing an easy process to your audience so that they can bookmark your website, can lead to expanding your network. If a visitor bookmarks your website, the potential of viral marketing gets enhanced.

Are Your Customers Asking For A Divorce Or Are They ‘Feeling The Love’

According to a new study released by CMO Council entitled “The Leaders in Loyalty: Feeling the Love from the Loyalty Club“, 54 percent of the consumers surveyed let it be known that thanks to the barrage of irrelevant messages, low value rewards, and impersonal engagements, they aren’t feeling the love.  In fact, they are thinking of asking for a divorce.

The study suggests “The reality of today’s loyalty landscape is that too many rewards, points or perk programs out there are still only as sophisticated as those early trading stamp programs.  They dish discounts and free stuff to repeat buyers and gather about as much insight from the customer as those first shopkeepers exchanging place settings for swollen stamp books.”

So how does your brand’s loyalty program stack up against #1 American Express?

While you ponder that question let’s look at key indicators that customers didn’t like about loyalty programs.

  • Too much spam and junk email topped the list of negatives at 44 percent
  • Too many conditions and restrictions at 38 percent
  • Rewards that lacked real value at 37 percent

Other prevalent complaints included members having a hard time redeeming points or rewards, program membership lacking value, and communications and services not being personalized or target specifically for members.

If you intend to have a successful loyalty program you must understand key customer requirements like “personalization”, “individualization” and “value”.  Today, customers are looking for greater rewards that “earn” their business and while they are open to “perks” what they really want is to be embraced and know by the business they patronize.

‘Beating The Commodity Trap’

Unusually for a business book these days, this one has a restrained, unsensational title. But “Beating the Commodity Trap” describes a process that is (or should be) terrifying for its readers: commoditization.

You may think your business offers rare and valuable goods and services. But the chances are that, somewhere, a recent entrant or potential competitor is preparing to do something similar, for a lower price. As the author says, “Everything becomes a commodity eventually.”

Richard D’Aveni is professor of strategic management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, N.H. This book is a successor to his 1994 work “Hypercompetition,” in which he described how technology and globalization were destroying long-established competitive advantages.

Now, he says, businesses face the commodity trap — “a particularly virulent form of hypercompetition.”

His tone is sober and urgent. D’Aveni is writing for the time-poor executive, who is aware of encircling threats but uncertain what to do about them.

When facing low-cost competition, companies traditionally try to cut costs or innovate. But this can trap them in “never-ending cycles of hypercompetition,” D’Aveni says. Survival requires smarter and subtler responses.

The author describes three types of commodity traps. First, there is deterioration, in which low-end businesses enter with “lower cost, lower benefit” options that attract the mass market, much in the way Zara, the Spanish fashion chain, has done. In the deterioration trap, prices go down, and the benefits for customers go down too.

The second type is proliferation. Here, either cheaper or more expensive alternatives with “unique benefits” attack different parts of an incumbent’s market — as Japanese and U.S. motorcycle makers did to Harley-Davidson. Prices and benefits for customers may go up or down.

Third, and perhaps most dramatically, there is escalation. Here, players offer more benefits for the same or lower price, squeezing everyone’s margins, as Apple has done with iPods. Prices go down and benefits for customers go up.

In this world of commodity traps, D’Aveni says, managers will understand what the Red Queen in “Through the Looking-Glass” meant when she said: “Here you must run faster and faster to get nowhere at all!”

To move on, companies must be resourceful, and “change the industry’s structure,” “redefine price” or “define new segments.”

How do you avoid deterioration? Diesel, the fashion business, has done this by establishing expertise in denim products, the author says. Other high-end fashion companies have begun selling “baby cashmere” clothes, made from the first combing of a young goat. You need 20 goats to make one jumper. “This is a place where low-end players cannot follow,” D’Aveni writes.

Another alternative is the side-step strategy: “Move away from the pull of the market power of low-end rivals.” Armani and Dolce & Gabbana preview part of their collections in private showings to avoid early copying. “Some 60% to 70% of Armani revenues are attributable to such ‘pre-collection’ sales,” D’Aveni said.

Proliferation is daunting, but you “cannot fight everyone, everywhere, all the time,” D’Aveni says. You have to try to manage these threats. As A.G. Lafley, former chief executive at Procter & Gamble, used to say: “Where are you going to play, and where are you going to win?”

The hotel sector has suffered from proliferation. Andrew Cosslett, InterContinental Hotels CEO, tells D’Aveni: “Hotels in the past have been segmented by price and not much else. . . . Brands in the future will have to stand for something.”

Executives may question how useful it is to follow advice from D’Aveni, who is also a consultant. But every business needs to think about how to defeat these threats. As he says: “Commoditization doesn’t just happen to commodities.”

Are Your Marketing Rules Obsolete?

Most of the marketing rules we lived by just five years ago are practically obsolete. The industry has faced more changes in the last five years than in the previous 50. Let’s face it, there’s no point in improving broken legacy models. Since necessity is the mother of invention, let’s not waste this recession and instead use it to rethink how we go about branding in this new decade. Here are five key ways:
 
1. Create better realities: A Bain & Co. survey notes that 80 percent of CEOs believe their product to be differentiated, but only 8 percent of consumers agree. And Y&R’s recent Brand Asset Valuator found a 90 percent erosion in brand differentiation over the last 10 years. These are not just sad examples of illusory superiority, but a staggering statement of our industry’s failure to add value in the past decade.
 
It’s critical that marketers realize that the product itself is the most powerful brand-building tool. We’ve all heard it before: “innovate or die.” But today’s hyper-connected society adds a sense of urgency to this broadly accepted mantra because mediocrity is getting extinguished with increasing speed via social networks.
 
Because reality always trumps image, marketing needs to create real value versus just adding a perceived value. Marketers need to shape the offer — the product, service and experiences consumer buy — not just communicate it. Marketing becomes the product and the product becomes the marketing.
 
2. Don’t be design blind: With design driving innovation, we need to challenge our understanding of design.
 
The Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon noted that “everyone is a designer who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.” Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management, equally challenged our perspective when he said, “Today’s businesspeople don’t need to understand designers better, they need to become a designer.’
 
The concept of design thinking has become highly regarded and commonly understood, but it has yet to infiltrate corporate culture. When design thinking is practiced, creative problem solving happens more successfully, leading to truly innovative business solutions versus the incremental improvements left-brain-driven analytical thinking leads to.
 
3. Be “brand led”: While brands need to apply the same rigor the human-centric approach design thinking requires and while actionable insights are key, they’re only half of the equation. Being solely consumer led does not allow you to be differentiated. Be brand led and consumer informed — not the other way around.
 
Being brand led allows innovation to be true to, and guided by, the purpose of the brand, making it more credible and in line with what the brand is capable of.
 
4. Think 365 — not 360: Shift from singular, consistent messages to multiple coherent ideas, from simplistic, one dimensional, reduced executions to complex, multidimensional, rich executions. Stop striving for perfection and go for progress by iteration. Join the movement shifting from campaign thinking to conversation thinking.
 
At the same time, a brand must build long-term platforms to become an indispensable part of people’s daily lives by providing continued entertainment and utility. Brands can’t afford to go dark any more. Instead, stimulate brand conversations with more initiatives, more often. Just like people, brands are a sum of their experience.
 
5. Be interesting: This you know — but do you practice it? A brand that generates little or no conversations will be killed by one that does. In a world where it’s more important what people say about your brand than what brands say about themselves, give people something to talk about.
 
Let’s stop confusing excuses with reasons. Let’s use this recession as a reset button. Let’s make business more innovative and the world a more interesting place.

Frank Striefler is a principal at Wolff Olins.

The Importance Of Mobile ‘Apps’ For Your Business

The number of people using the Internet on their mobile device will more than double to reach one billion by 2013. Meanwhile, the number of mobile applications or “apps” available on Google’s mobile platform, Android, has risen sharply from 10,000 in September 2009 to a little under 20,000 in December 2009.

While currently the main uses of this technology revolve around our personal lives, (for activities such as social networking, listening to music and downloading entertaining apps), the predicted increase in the popularity of the mobile Internet and mobile apps is set to filter into the way we run our businesses and interact with customers. To help companies get to grips with this emerging trend here is some advice from T-Mobile on using apps to benefit your organisation.

How can using Apps help my business?
Apps offer great potential to market your business, network, boost customer service and improve the way staff work on the move and communicate with one another. There are many apps already available which can be of use to small businesses. Here are a few examples:

– Note everything lets you make written, audio or visual notes, setting reminders and prioritise important tasks.
– Dedicated business networking sites such as LinkedIn have also developed their own apps to allow easy access to updates on the site for busy professionals.
Dow Jones has launched an app for sales people which provides up-to-the-minute intelligence about business changes such as management moves and new investments to help sales professionals improve their knowledge of prospects and customers.
– T-Mobile’s free shareAnywhere app helps businesses share information about products and services with customers and colleagues wherever they are. You can use it to automatically compress image files into (read more)