Latest Trend In Marketing Environment: Viral Marketing

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 5714 , Published on 29 March 2012

The recent success of the soup song, “Why this Kolaveri di?” has brought to the fore, the strategy of viral marketing. The song that otherwise lacks glamour and far from any traditional genre of music has made it to the Hall of Fame of Youtube, with 210000 downloads within 18 days of being launched, breaking the previous records of Munni Badnaam and Tere mast mast do nain.

Viral marketing

Cindy Gordon, the President of New media and marketing partnerships, told just seven people, when she launched the Wizarding world of Harry Potter. These seven people told thousands of others, and the estimates say that 350 million people around the world heard that the Universal Orlando Resort was creating the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And all of this through VIRAL MARKETING.

Cindy Gordon knew that Harry Potter is a global sensation. So, she relied on word-of-the-mouse to spread word for her venture. The news were first broken to selected rabid fans from top Harry Potter fan sites by inviting them to a top-secret webcast. And from here, the word spread, raiding all the fan-sites, blogs, emails, etc. Since, most of the work was in-house, requiring little staff, the work could be done with a small marketing budget.

Another classic example of viral marketing is they gave free email IDS, with a tag attached below every message sent: “Get your private, free email at”, and like the ripples created by a small pebble thrown into water, the strategy led to huge returns.

Viral marketing describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating a potential for exponential growth in the message’s influence and exposure. This is similar to the way the virus procreate exponentially.   Generally, it is more about marketing through the internet – blogs, mails, social networking sites, etc. There have been attempts to change the name, but viral has stuck, offensive though it may sound.

Experts say that there are six basic principles of any viral marketing strategy –

  • Gives away products or services
  • Provides effortless and easy transfer to others
  • Scales up easily
  • Exploits general behavior and common motivations
  • Works using existing networks of communication
  • Takes full advantage of resources that are others’

The best part of viral marketing is, no big budgets are required. You just make a good enough video (most common these days), and it goes viral (if it’s good enough, and the right people notice it to pass it along.)

What questions are the prospective customers asking? What are they talking about? What ways are the customers responding? The amount of influence certain customers views and words can have is tremendous, and the success of the viral marketing strategy greatly depends on that. What customers feel about a product will influence the buying behaviour of their family, friends, near and dear ones, neighbors, etc.

However, there have been numerous instances when viral marketing has worked negatively and backfired. This has led to huge losses. Consider the movie 2012. It had a budget of about $40 million. However, after being released in 2160 screens, it could make just $694782. Such huge losses, were due to the flawed marketing strategy. The websites were dubbed as making spurious claims about 2012. David Morrison of NASA condemned the movie as he was fed up of receiving numerous letters who felt what was being shows was genuine, and many people even wanted to commit suicide as they couldn’t bear to see the world end.

A newer kind of viral marketing has taken up off late, where it is not the product that is marketed, but the campaign that gets marketed. For instance, the Barack Obama posters that got spread during his Presidential campaign.

The best way to ensure that a viral marketing campaign succeeds is to build in this viral into the product. Make the product such that it spreads, because that is how it was made. The product should be spreadable, interesting and should somehow benefit all those who spread it. A lame or semi-lame product with insufficient budget will never succeed on the viral. And then, creating a controversy about it, or making people blog about it, will still not work.

The real hard part about viral marketing is to make it work to create something valuable. But, if used wisely with proper planning, viral marketing can be the best tool to showcase a product in the market, directly to the customers, on a meagre budget. It will help in slashing down the marketing costs. And if Kolaveri di, Youtube, Hotmail, Paranormal activity, etc can work, everything if worked on properly can go viral.

This article has been authored by Bhavi Patel from IRMA.

Image: Master isolated images /


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