What are some tricks to viral marketing?

Bambi Francisco Roizen · July 11, 2008 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/2c6

Sernovitz shares ways to cause people to talk about your company

One of the hottest topics in communications and marketing these days is "viral marketing." If you get it right, your marketing costs drop significantly and your customers are most likely happy. After all, they wouldn't be your evangelist if they didn't like your product or service. Andy Sernovitz, author of Word of Mouth Marketing and an expert in this field, stopped by the Vator studio to share his expertise on this topic. His tips are as wise, as they are simple.

"It's not about being a good company," Andy said, referring to how a company becomes good at viral marketing. "Good companies have the chocolate problem. The chocolate problem is you've never picked up the phone and said, "Have you tried chocolate?' It's being good, but adding a reason to talk."

For instance, "Krispy Kreme makes good doughnuts, but putting them in the window, and saying, 'Hot now' was a reason to talk," he explained. Bottom line: Market and promote what you have to help people discover your product. 

The three reasons to get people to make recommendations is "You, me and us,"  said Andy. The "you" reason is the company having a good product. The "me' reason is bigger. The me reasons says, "I'm going to talk about you because it makes me feel good. I like to feel smart, so give me inside information, news and blogs. Or, I want to feel important, so put me in a VIP program," he said. Essentially, find the people who like to talk and give them the tools to talk, and be recognized as experts or just cool.

"The reason to use or reason to buy is different than a reason to talk," said Andy. 

For example, "Ferrari customers aren't telling everybody to buy a Ferrari. They want to be the only one," said Andy. "Ferrari talkers are 14-year-old boys and car junkies." These are not the buyers of the Italian sports car, but they feel smart and cool if they talk about the car.

The third reason to get people to recommend your company is the "us" reason, Andy goes on. This reason is making someone feel like he or she is part of a community. 


A good example of a campaign that caused a lot of conversation is Potbelly Sandwich Works' 10 sandwich campaign. In this campaign, they offered a coupon for 10 sandwiches, not one, he said. "What do you do with a coupon for 10 sandwiches?," he asked. A person would have to walk around the office and share the story as they attempt to give away the sandwiches. "The 10 makes it a reason to talk," said Andy. "And you look connected - you're the one buying lunch. It's a whole experience walking away with a coupon." 

For Andy's five steps on putting such campaigns together and how QuickBooks tapped into viral marketing by creating experts and other viral marketing examples, watch the interview. Andy has a lot of excellent advice.

As you watch the interview, you'll start to understand what he means by this: "Most advertising is to drive click or sale. Word-of-mouth marketing is driving a share - I want to cause a conversation."

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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