The Basics of Viral Marketing and Pandemic Labs

In November, I wrote a few posts discussing word of mouth marketing. In my first post on this topic, Thinking Outside the Screen-WoM Advertising, I briefly introduced the idea of word of mouth marketing, and viral marketing. I, personally, differentiate between the two, where as many other organizations use the terms interchangeably. As originally indicated in my first post, I define the terms in the following manner:

    • Word of mouth marketing is a reference to the passing of general information and recommendations by verbal means, in an informal, person-to-person manner. Word of mouth mediums include face-to-face spoken communication, phone calls, text messages, blog posts, message board threads, instant messages and emails.
    • Viral marketing and viral advertising refer to marketing techniques that use pre-existing consumer relationships to produce increases in brand awareness. It facilitates and encourages people to pass along a marketing message, such as through a “forward to a friend” feature.

    Regardless, both word of mouth marketing and viral marketing work the same way. How do they work? Matt Peters over at PandemicBlog wrote a great post, How Does Viral Marketing Work?, with simple yet effective visuals illustrating the concept in a clear, concise way.

    Continue reading

    Advertisements

    Getting Involved with WoM!

    As I have discussed before in a previous post, Thinking Outside the Screen- WoM Advertising, word of mouth (WoM) is now an incredible marketing tool used by several companies intentionally through viral marketing methods, and unintentionally by simple generating “buzz.” In 2001, an entrepreneur named Dave Balter took this trend to the next level by creating BzzAgent, the world’s first WoM media channel, allowing companies to develop and execute their own WOM campaigns through a community of over 300,000 consumer volunteers, or “agents.” Balter’s vision was to

    “…create a platform that would allow people to experience new products and services, share their honest opinions about them with people they knew and report those activities and opinions so marketers could directly see the results.”

    It was an innovative new way to organize and track word of mouth of certain companies. So, how does it work? Well, a company first contacts BzzAgent to initiate a campaign. The company then tells BzzAgent who their target audience is, and BzzAgent contacts the agents that meet that criteria. The agents are then “shown” the product or service the company is trying to promote by actually trying it out for themselves. Then the agents begin talking about it, telling people they know what they thought about the product or service that they tried out. BzzAgent then talks back with the agent in order to encourage even more discussion. Here’s where the real beauty of the program is. BzzAgent analyzes the WoM campaign, giving the company

    “…agent reports and communications so [the company] can fully understand the impact of [its] WOM campaign.”

    BzzAgent also gives the company qualitative feedback and market recommendations, based on the real conversations going on about the product or service.

    “So, if people didn’t like the color of your product, had ideas for improved packaging or thought the service didn’t live up to expectations — [BzzAgent will] tell you. This real-world information provides invaluable customer insight that can inform product, marketing and sales strategies.”

    BzzAgent will even customize their analytics process to match exactly what benchmarks or measurements the company will like to find. Word of mouth marketing is now measurable!Dave Balter

    The company also has a blog, The BeeLog, which features somewhat regular posts of the company’s CEO, Dave Balter. It is also relevant to point out that Dave Balter is the founder of the Word of Mouth Marketing Assocation (WOMMA). You can read more about WOMMA on their website or in my previous post, Thinking Outside the Screen.

    Whether you are a company looking for a way to take advantage of new media or a consumer who wants to tell marketers how good or terrible their products and services are, Check out BzzAgent!

    Also be sure to check out Dave Balter’s Book: Grapevine: The New Art of Word-of-Mouth Marketing. Written by the founder of both BzzAgent and the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, Balter is sure to reveal some insider insight on how companies can take advantage of this medium.

    Word of Mouth Marketing, Andy SernovitzAlso, don’t forget to check out a book I previously featured in my last WoM post: Thinking Outside the Screen, Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, By Andy Sernovitz, Chief Executive of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. A foreword by Seth Godin, a best selling author of marketing books and brilliant individual. I encourage anybody interested in Word of Mouth to check it out!

    Thinking Outside the Screen- WoM Advertising

    Word of MouthOne thing marketing and advertising executives sometime do is limit their area of creativity. They create funny TV ads, thought invoking print ads, mind blowing billboards, and creative and animated online ads, but fail to look outside the “box”–being the TV, piece of paper, computer screen, etc. Wouldn’t a company like to fall right in the middle of their target consumers’ conversations? This is what we call word of mouth marketing, (WoM). Exclusive research findings by PQ Media, released November 15th, reveal that the actuality of these creative minds to utilize WoM has grown. This is seen in the findings that spending has

    “jumped 35.9% in 2006 to $981.0 million and is expected to top $1 billion in 2007, making it one of the fastest growing alternative media segments. “

    According to Keller Fay Group, a word of mouth research and consulting firm, there are 3.5 billion conversations about products, services, and companies’ marketing and advertising initiatives each day- and that’s just in the US! Furthermore, 80% of individuals say they trust their friends’ and families’ recommendations on the products, resulting in more sales simply via word of mouth marketing.

    So, what’s the difference between word of mouth and viral advertising or marketing? Although sometimes used as two completely separate terms, they are fairly similar. Some entities even use the terms interchangeably.

    Word of mouth marketing, is a reference to the passing of general information and recommendations by verbal means, in an informal, person-to-person manner. Word of mouth mediums include face-to-face spoken communication, phone calls, text messages, blog posts, message board threads, instant messages and emails.

    Viral marketing and viral advertising refer to marketing techniques that use pre-existing consumer relationships to produce increases in brand awareness. It facilitates and encourages people to pass along a marketing message.

    Viral marketing is often seen as more of an electronic process, referring to emails that incorporate a “Send to a Friend” link, a website article or online video that you send to a friend via a provided link, etc. Word of mouth, in contrast, would prefer to the more conversational aspect of it. After the viral marketing is carried out (you send a cool video to a friend via email, and they receive it), the word of mouth portion begins, which involves you and your friend discussing the video, increasing the possibility that you will continue to discuss the topic.

    Viral marketing would not always end with word of mouth marketing. For example, if you receive this article from a friend and simply delete it without either reading it or discussing it. As you can see, the differences between the two terms is slight, but quite apparent.

    To read more about Word of Mouth Marketing and the brand new Marketing Forecast Report, read on!

    word of mouth marketing bookAlso check out Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, a brand new book released November 1st of this year. If you’re looking for some place to start with Word of Mouth Marketing, begin here! Written by Andy Sernovitz, Cheif Executive of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. A foreword by Seth Godin, a best selling author of marketing books and brilliant individual. I encourage anybody interested in Word of Mouth to check it out!

    So, as we have seen, word of mouth marketing is one of the fastest growing and most effective areas of the marketing industry. Why aren’t you using it yet? For more resources on how to implement a word of mouth campaign, or questions on the topic, feel free to contact me via email or by posting a comment to this post. Keep Talking!