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Why I am still a viral marketing skeptic

August 14th, 2008 No comments

I just read again David Meerman Scott’s free e-book on Viral marketing. This and similar descriptions of the marketing process give one an understanding of how a successful viral marketing campaign, or now social marketing campaign, can be created but we know that most of these campaigns fail. To be fair Scott makes this point. I was also at a live webcast by Mike Volpe of Hubspot where he stated that your staff should be so excited about their product that they can make a viral campaign work for any product. These are all worthwhile presentations but I am still a skeptic about viral marketing of a lot of product lines because it assumes that the purchasing decision makers are also so excited about the purchase that they are connecting with the network mavens. While this is true of Harry Potter fans is it true of electrical component purchasers? People read when they buy a car and even a car wax but not before they stop at a car wash or buy a chamois. People do refer to their networks but only for some unusual purchases. I am convinced that most products and services still need a blend of active outbound promotion as well as influencing the key communicators and their networks. With some products such as hubspot’s products this may be so far to one side that influencing bloggers is all that is needed. What I have no doubt about is that if you are in the words of Mike Volpe, able to identify something in your product which is “exceptional, cool or remarkable” in your business you should be taking your passion for it and sharing that as viral content with social networks.

Thinking about the very average business, such as the five dry cleaners within three blocks of my New York apartment it is clear that they need outbound marketing, printed door hangers, coat hangers and window offers as well as word of mouth and are unlikely to benefit from, let alone survive, by relying upon contacting nearby bloggers.

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