Posted by: sClarke | 06/29/2009

Vaccines? Don’t Even Bother.

Viral marketing or more cleverly, word-of-mouse.  Remove the technological aspect and you have word-of-mouth, spawning, self-propogation, you get the idea.  I really liked how this e-Commerce Consultant discussed viral marketing…

“I admit it. The term “viral marketing” is offensive. Call yourself a Viral Marketer and people will take two steps back. I would. “Do they have a vaccine for that yet?” you wonder. A sinister thing, the simple virus is fraught with doom, not quite dead yet not fully alive, it exists in that nether genre somewhere between disaster movies and horror flicks.

“But you have to admire the virus. He has a way of living in secrecy until he is so numerous that he wins by sheer weight of numbers. He piggybacks on other hosts and uses their resources to increase his tribe. And in the right environment, he grows exponentially. A virus don’t even have to mate — he just replicates, again and again with geometrically increasing power, doubling with each iteration:


“In a few short generations, a virus population can explode.” –Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

Cindy Gordon, vice president of new media and marketing partnerships at
Universal Orlando Resort, was put in charge of announcing a new major attraction.  Just about every other head of marketing would pull out their checkbook and begin shelling out money to start a campaign, not Gordon.  She needed to spread the word about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  What did she do?  She told seven people about.


Those seven people then infected tens of thousands of others with the word of the new attraction.  The media caught the virus from others that were infected and began to contaminate the world via newspaper and magazine articles, radio and TV spots, and blog posts.  Gordon estimated that over 350 million had caught The Wizarding World of Harry Potter sickness that all began with just seven people.

hp wiz world

Of course, they weren’t just any seven people.  They were hand-selected from the tops of Harry Potter fans sites.  J.K. Rawlings even had some say in the selected seven.  Those seven fans were invited to participate in a top-secret Webcast.  The Webcast discussed how the ride designers were bringing together The Wizardly World of Harry Potter.  From there is was history.  Social media helped to put fans first and Gordon and her team were able to run the operation completely in-house and, not to mention, a very minimal budget.

“Nimble companies are using the Web in ways that they could never do before. New media has created a new marketing environment where the old rules of marketing no longer apply. When you have a passionate fan base for your brand, the Internet is especially vital for going viral. Communicating to a small but powerful group of fans first online to enlist their support is a smart way to ensure positive coverage in the mainstream press. The power of the Internet makes it easier for people to fall in love with you faster. But beware—it also makes it easier for them to fall out of love with you faster. It’s a double-edged sword. Listen constantly to what’s being said about you. Social media technologies do not make a brand viral; they merely allow consumers to tell others about good brands. The main thing is to be different and relevant with your brand. And when you have that, the sheer power of the Internet can accelerate your brand. Traditional media takes weeks to build brand awareness and months to build preference. The Internet can make your brand famous literally overnight”–Marketing advice from Cindy Gordon.

Viral marketing: Spread a cold, catch a customer.

Three tips for non-profit viral marketing.

I suppose not everyone can achieve the amount of success Gordon had because not just anyone has Harry Potter on her side.



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