But what exactly is viral and word of mouth marketing?
Have you ever loved a company, product, or idea so much that you couldn’t wait to tell others about it? Seen a horrible movie lately and told your friends not to go? Tried a new type of food because a friend suggested it? Heard a story about a town that named themselves after a start-up internet company? Passed along an e-mail about a funky chicken you can command at your will? Posted or read an online review to a consumer website? If you answered yes to any of these questions you engaged in word-of-mouth communication and may have also wittingly or unwittingly participated in an organized word-of-mouth, buzz, or viral marketing campaign.
Word-of-mouth, buzz, and viral marketing is a hot topic now as organizations of all kinds – for-profits, not-for-profits, academic institutions, you name it – struggle to break through a mediascape cluttered with advertisements, deal with a growing distrust of corporate-affiliated messages, figure out a consumer market that demands greater control and engagement, and try to understand how new communication technologies amplify peer-to-peer communication and influence, both in the online and offline worlds.
Buzz marketing, also known as ‘word-of-mouth marketing’, ‘guerilla marketing’ or ‘viral marketing’ is an art that involves trendsetters in any community to carry the brand’s message, thus creating an interest in, and a demand for, the brand with no overt advertising.
The heart of a viral or word of mouth campaign is the content. People don't spread the ad because they love your brand, they spread it because they can't help but adore your content. They're not evangelists serving you, they are self-serving.
“Word of mouth or viral is truly the world's most powerful form of advertising. Practically every businessperson knows how important word of mouth marketing is. Yet almost no one truly understands how to build their business through word of mouth,” says Sunil Shibad, Creative Director, The Flea.
Headquarted in Mumbai, with associates in Houston, St Louis, Brisbane and Pune, The Flea (fleaglobal.com), India’s first and only non-traditional communication agency, is already carrying out viral and buzz marketing campaigns for clients such as Himalayan Natural Mineral Water, matrisearch.com, Idea Cellular, Jopasana Wildlife Conservation, TravelPort, Snowcem Paints and Tain Construction.
The challenge with viral marketing is to make the product creative or attractive enough for users to want to bother spreading it around. Online games, quizzes, ecards, microsites, video clips, blogs and jokes come in handy.
"The quality of execution is tremendously underestimated," notes Mr Shibad. “As with Web marketing in the early days, people feel like they can get away with less effort on viral campaigns. But, while some campaigns feel very low-tech to give off an aura of authenticity, the best campaigns are well thought-out and impeccably executed."
Buzz and viral marketing is extremely attractive to businesses with a limited marketing budget, since there is almost zero spend on media and yet it can deliver astonishing results in a very short period of time.
Adds Mr Shibad, "Advertising and marketing budgets no longer stretch as far as they used to, and the perceived savings by using viral and buzz marketing techniques are too attractive to ignore."