Category Archives: What is?

3 Reasons Why Viral Marketing is Popular

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The holy grail of marketing is the viral effect. A piece of content that is so brilliant that it engages the audience to such a degree, that that it spreads like a virus through the ranks of people all over the world. Or when speaking about marketing, the target market, which in most cases actually isn’t the whole world.

Why is the viral effect of such an interest to many marketeers? If thought about rationally and in a business context, the most common reasons mentioned are of course the key business driverseffectiveness and cost. But in reality, there are also other forces in play.

1)   The Effectiveness of the Marketing Message.

A well-known fact, that I’m not to going to try to argue against, is that when one chooses to engage with content (i.e. viral content) the message of the content is delivered more effectively than when content is broadcasted to you (e.g. television or newspaper adverts).

On marketing terms, we could also talk about the engaged audience moving faster or more easily from Attention to Interest to Desire to Action, i.e. climbing the ladders of the AIDA model. Of course, particularly with viral content, one is in many cases already partially predisposed towards accepting the message due to seeing ones peers like the content. Such is the effect of peer-to-peer recommendations or Word-of-Mouth (WOM) advertising as it is more traditionally referred to.

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Viral marketing message spreads via relationships and contacts through recommendations and mentions either online or face-to-face.

2)   Marketing Cost and Investment Effectiveness.

Costs and the effectiveness of the investment, on the other hand, is a much more trickier issue.

Simply put, on marketing the costs boil down to fixed operating costs and variable costs coming from production and media. In a purely viral marketing campaign the media costs should be close zero. Maybe some costs from seeding the content are added on top, but still, these costs are much lower than traditional media costs. Given the price of media or standard needed media investments, which are or should be multi-fold to the production costs (there are, of course, exceptions to this rule), the easy conclusion is that a viral marketing campaign can be a much more cost effective investment than a marketing campaign utilizing purely ‘traditional’ channels is. But there’s a catch to it, as there always is, and the ‘can be’ is the tell tale sign of it.

The contact price valuation method giving value both for the actual contact and level of exposure (time and duration) is the only way to plan a marketing campaign to be effective from the perspective of investment effectiveness*. A media agency could try to calculate a contact price and a relative engagement price, which would give you some insights on where to put a line with the production costs and possible media costs, if compared with the costs for ‘traditional’ media. But putting a right cost for the viral campaign will always be hard due to you not knowing before hand

a) the absolute size of engaged or even exposed consumers, and

b) the number of engaged consumers in your target audience.

Those figures are much easier to measure or estimate in a traditional media context, both before and after the fact.

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The right investment level for a viral marketing campaign is often hard to define.

The above is also one of the major reasons why selling a viral marketing campaign plan to the board of directors is often like banging ones head to a brick wall. Very painful. It all boils down to trust. And to a good plan. Even when no campaign truly ever is constrained to the traditional media channels.

In addition to the standard business motivations, I’d argue there is also a third reason behind the keen interest and desire to create viral marketing campaigns. And that is the Holy Grail Factor.

3)   The Holy Grail Factor

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There is no bigger glory than being the one who designed the marketing campaign that got people all over the world discussing it (and on a side note also maybe got the sales up).

Isn’t doing traditional marketing campaigns with just TV, magazines, newspapers, internet and mobile advertising, PR, sponsorship, promotions, events and in-store shopper marketing just so passé?

Everybody is doing it, and we’ve all done that so many times. Wouldn’t it be fun to do a viral campaign? I know we can make it successful… I know we can achieve it.

The Holy Grail Factor – or the hint of vanity that is inside all of us is, and will always be, one of the key drivers in many business decisions whether we want it or not. Unfortunately, or maybe, thank god. Even that battle hardened CEO is doing decisions based on things that he would like to achieve, instead of just the things that are the most well analyzed, strategically sound and reasonable to be done. Not all decision and probably not even most of the decisions, but surely some. We are all just people in the end.

I am not saying, that basing a part of ones decisions on ‘this is what I would like to achieve list’ is wrong, I’d even go as far as saying that it is preferable. As long as it is in manageable proportion compared to strategically sound decisions. Sometimes the two are, in any case, the same.  Furthermore, the ‘like to list’ is very often the product of intuition, which plays a key role in every important, and so difficult, decision. Throughout the history, many of the most successful business ventures, strategies and marketing campaign have been born out of passion to do things differently, of the passion to achieve something greater, of the small hinge of vanity inside of us, of the desire to get our hands on the holy grail.

Conclusion: Viral Marketing Is a Risky Business.

Doing viral marketing campaigns – how to do them and whether to do them at all – is and will always be risky. Especially if discussed as a separate entity – as a separate action – away from traditional media campaign. They are after all the holy grails of the marketing world, both extremely effective at engaging the target audience and low in cost. And maybe, just maybe, the sure ways to get some of that much deserved praise and glory between the everyday creative, well planned and executed, integrated, 360 degree campaigns. Where there’s a risk, there’s a reward. And here they go hand in hand.

Surely viral marketing campaigns can be more effective than traditional marketing campaigns, but measuring the correct investment level and guaranteeing the right exposure levels can be very difficult, if not near impossible. Or is it?

There are many successful viral marketing campaigns from both SME’s with small budgets to Multinational entities like Sony, Nokia or H&M, proving, that viral marketing campaigns – not just viral videos – can be done. But most importantly there are many companies, who are able to plan and implement them one after the other. Think about Axe (Lynx), Nike, Apple, DC or Old Spice they manage to create the viral effect in each and every marketing campaign. And it isn’t just these huge enterprises that are able to do it. There are also many examples of SME’s producing viral campaigns with close to perfect track records.

Is it just pure luck? Are the companies the epitomes of luck or posses the much coveted 100% real rabbits foot? Or is it, that even the viral effect can be planned beforehand, much like any other marketing activity? More on that on the next installment of the Viral Marketing Encyclopedia.

*I’m going to neglect discussions on sales targets on this notion totally, as they should be self evident in valuations  – especially on the long term. Not necessarily so on the short term. It always depends on your objectives.

Viral Marketing for Dummies

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Welcome to the 10 part viral marketing encyclopedia: Viral Marketing for Dummies – the complete resource for viral marketing for dummies like you and me.

Whether you are a seasoned professional or a business student, there are new insights to be gained to viral marketing through the methodological step-by-step dissection we take. In the 10 parts you can find everything from viral marketing definitions and principles to strategies and real world tactics to case examples and analysis, as well as, an empirical study on where all the instructions given are put to a test.

The 10 parts are published one at a time. You can find them below and from the marketing section in this site as they become available. Please enjoy.

Content

01. Foreword for Viral Marketing

02. What is Viral Marketing

03. Three Reasons Why Viral Marketing is Popular

Next: 04 Viral Marketing in Your Marketing Mix

Later: 05 Viral Marketing Benchmarks

Later: 06 Tools For Viral Marketing Success

Later: 07 What is a Successful Viral Marketing Campaign

Later: 08 How to: The Recipe for Viral Marketing Campaign

Later: 09 The Viral Marketing Experiment: Building a Campaign From Scratch And Reporting the Results

Later: 10 Viral Marketing Concluded

We will be accepting suggestions for content (guidelines, suggestions for good benchmarks and case studies, pages to use as a reference, etc.) till the final chapter. Enjoy and spread the word.

What is Marketing According to Google and I?

what-is-marketing-theoutsideviewblogThere are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of different definitions for what marketing actually is – this variety in definitions does not differ from any business, technological, cultural, social or even religious practice in the world. We all have our own perspective and take on different practices, as well as, the inherent need to define concepts and so make sense of the world around us.

So how to determine what marketing is? Lets take guidance from two of the most brilliant minds in our times:

Fox Mulder of X-Files said, that there is a truth out there.

Will Ferrel tweeted, that When looking for something in Google, if it is not on the first page of search results then it doesn’t exist and my journey ends there.

I gather that the truth to what marketing is has to lie in those first page results of the Google search on ‘what is marketing’. And if not, I’ll always have my own experiences and thought to draw from.

What is Marketing According to Google?

So what is marketing according to Google search – the one source of all answers worth asking for and the Nr 1. creation of the company whose mission it is to organize the information in the world? A search on Google with ‘what is marketing’ gives 1.230.000.000 results. The 11 first hits give the following answers (and let’s not try to fool ourselves, most of us are just way too lazy to venture past the the first page of search results so, as Will Ferrel said, the universal truth has to lie in those first 11 results):

  1. “Noun: The action or business of promoting and selling products or services”. (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&q=marketing&tbs=dfn:1&tbo=u&sa=X&ei=Y8SJTpPuL4TE0QXiq6DtDw&ved=0CB4QkQ4)
  2. Tutor2u.net (http://tutor2u.net/business/marketing/what_is_marketing.asp) gives the following definitions and explanations:
    1. “The all-embracing function that links the business with customer needs and wants in order to get the right product to the right place at the right time”
    2. “The achievement of corporate goals through meeting and exceeding customer needs better than the competition”
    3. “The management process that identifies, anticipates and supplies customer requirements efficiently and profitably”
    4. “Marketing may be defined as a set of human activities directed at facilitating and consummating exchanges”
    5. Which definition is right? In short, they all are. They all try to embody the essence of marketing: Marketing is about meeting the needs and wants of customers;
Marketing is a business-wide function – it is not something that operates alone from other business activities;
Marketing is about understanding customers and finding ways to provide products or services which customers demand”.
  3. From the Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marketing): Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments. It is an integrated process through which companies build strong customer relationships and create value for their customers and for themselves.
  4. According to the marketingteacher.com (http://marketingteacher.com/lesson-store/lesson-what-is-marketing.html): “There are many definitions of marketing. The better definitions are focused upon customer orientation and satisfaction of customer needs.
    1. Marketing is the social process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating and exchanging products and value with others. (Kotler)
    2. Marketing is the management process that identifies, anticipates and satisfies customer requirements profitably. (The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)). The CIM definition (in common with Barwell’s definition of the marketing concept) looks not only at identifying customer needs, but also satisfying them (short-term) and anticipating them in the future (long-term retention).
    3. The right product, in the right place, at the right time, at the right price (Adcock)
    4. This is a snappy and realistic definition that uses McCarthy’s Four Ps: Marketing is essentially about marshaling the resources of an organization so that they meet the changing needs of the customer on whom the organization depends. (Palmer). This is a more recent and very realistic definition that looks at matching capabilities with needs.
    5. Marketing is the process whereby society, to supply its consumption needs, evolves distributive systems composed of participants, who, interacting under constraints – technical (economic) and ethical (social) – create the transactions or flows which resolve market separations and result in exchange and consumption. (Bartles). This definition considers the economic and social aspects of marketing.
  5. The tenonline.org gives a descriptive and easy to understand definition of marketing with especially entrepreneurs in mind (http://tenonline.org/art/mm1/9301.html). To cut it short the punch line is: “marketing is everything you do to place your product or service in the hands of potential customers”
  6. At number six on the search results is one description from about.com (http://inventors.about.com/od/fundinglicensingmarketing/f/Marketing.htm): “Marketing is an activity. Marketing activities and strategies result in making products available that satisfy customers while making profits for the companies that offer those products”.
  7. About.com occupies also the seventh position (http://marketing.about.com/od/smallbusinessmarketing/a/whatismarketing.htm), and on that they say: “Marketing is the process of teaching consumers why they should choose your product or service over your competitors; if you are not doing that you are not marketing. It’s really that simple! The key is finding the right method and defining the right message to use to educate and influence your consumers”.
  8. The first video on the list is at number eight. The philosophically toned, maybe a bit lengthy video from the ‘Gypsy Bandito’ discusses marketing from various angles. It starts by explaining the concept of the market and moves onwards to the concept of marketer, etc. before discussing the various aspects and perspectives of marketing itself.
  9. An Article at the MarketingProfs (http://www.marketingprofs.com/2/whatismarketing.asp) ends by defining marketing the following way: “Marketing is, in fact, the analysis of customers, competitors, and a company, combining this understanding into an overall understanding of what segments exist, deciding on targeting the most profitable segments, positioning your products, and then doing what’s necessary to deliver on that positioning”.
    1. Max Kalehoff at attentionmax.com (http://www.attentionmax.com/marketing) answers the question of what is marketing by: “Marketing is the art and science of creating, delighting and keeping customers, while making a profit and building enterprise value. Marketing integrates, formally or informally, many disciplines and every organizational function. Marketing should embrace the highest ethical standards, respect the environment, and strive to make the world a better place”.
    2. Last, but not least, the last entry on the first page search results, the davedolak.com uses the definition of the American Marketing Association from 2007: “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

    I agree with many things said and described, even though the more theoretical takes by the likes of Bartles or Palmer don’t really get my support. Their definitions are just way too complicated to act as any kind of a guideline for any type of activity in any type of forum outside of the educational institution.

    On a side note, a detail that is highlighted a bit differently in the article of Max Kalehoff, a seeminly normal guy like many of us, is that he emphasizes that an organization should always define what marketing means for it, in order for the marketing function and all the related functions to work effectively. I agree with that with 100%, even though it often means that the end result will not live up to the full potential of what the marketing as a practice can or should encompass.

    What is Marketing. My Take.

    As with any practice, marketing has a myriad of different theoretical takes on what it is and what it should be. Working with marketing the past decade in national and multinational companies has let me evidence the many different views the CEOs and companies have on it. The most common observation being that marketing is usually given the function of advertising or promotions. This is true even when the top executives would speak of the larger role of marketing. On theoretical level the larger role is spoken of, but in reality and in practice, advertising or the promotions part of Kotler’s 4P’s (or of the modern 7P’s) is more often than not the sole function the marketing department is given. That function and role is quite different to how I see marketing.

    How I see what marketing is, is very close to the key definitions on the first page of Google search. I would also argue, that it is very close to how the leading customer focused marketing organizations are seeing it. As always, the meaning behind all the easy to understand, key definitions is the same, just the wording differs.

    As there is always room for one more interpretation of the world around us, for one more definition for marketing, here is my take on it: Marketing is figuring out what needs to be done in order for You to sell more and then doing it.

    You can always try to prove me wrong.