How to Use Viral Marketing to Spread the Word About Your Business

The concept behind Viral Marketing

word-of-mouth:

The concept of viral marketing is by no means new. Word-of-mouth marketing, viral’s forefather, has been around for ages. The principle behind word-of-mouth marketing is simple; use influencers to generate peer-to-peer product recommendations or buzz. Prior to the advent of the Internet, however, this form of marketing was too disjointed to effectively benefit most advertisers. The effect of word-of-mouth was largely contained to specific geographic areas simply due to the lack of widespread social networks. Word-of- mouth was generally limited by the ability of the influencer to physically speak to another prospective customer, hence the term “word-of-mouth”.

Enter the internet: 

The Internet has radically changed the concept of word-of-mouth, so much so that the term “viral marketing” was coined by venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson in 1997. The term was used to describe Hotmail’s email practice of appending advertising for themselves to outgoing mail from their users. The assumption is that if such an advertisement reaches a “susceptible” user, that user will become “infected” (i.e., sign up for an account) and can then go on to infect other susceptible users.

While email may have been the original catalyst; the advent of social networks, online communities and chat provide the ability to
distribute information exponentially faster than ever before. Where word-of-mouth marketing could take weeks or months to reach a thousand people, viral marketing can reach hundreds of thousands or millions in a matter of days or hours. The spread of an effective viral marketing campaign is akin to an epidemic outbreak of a virus, limited only by the potency and relevance of the marketing message.

Viral marketing defined:

The Wikipedia defines viral marketing as “marketing techniques that seek to exploit pre-existing social networks to produce exponential increases in brand awareness, through viral processes similar to the spread of an epidemic. It is word-of-mouth delivered and enhanced online; it harnesses the network effect of the Internet and can be very useful in reaching a large number of people rapidly.”

Why viral marketing?!

The proliferation of marketing and advertising, coupled with the onslaught of millions of media channels in today’s world, has given cause for consumers to tune out and effectively avoid a great deal of traditional supplier driven messaging. The creation of technologies such as PVRs, satellite radio and Internet ad blocking software are driving a fundamental shift in the way the public consumes media and the advertising often tied to it. Television ads, radio spots, online ads and even emails are facing increasing competition for effectively capturing the viewer’s attention and provide positive ROI for the marketer.

This competition, coupled with the rising cost of media buys, has caused marketers to search for an alternative means to reach the customer. Viral marketing is an attractive solution because it utilizes the free endorsement of the individual rather than purchase of mass media to spread the word. Because the distribution model is free, viral can potentially be lower cost and more effective than traditional media.it’s the best solution for all start-ups and who want to become an entrepreneurs

the viral effect

More than 90% of consumers said they told at least one other person about a Web site when the original recommendation came from a friend, according to Jupiter Research.

viral marketing advantages

1. Cuts through the clutter of traditional advertising, allowing marketers to effectively reach the audience.
2. Doesn’t require a product with a wow factor in order to raise awareness, generate buzz, and kick-start peer-to-peer spread. Instead, the viral campaign’s communication agent is the element that needs a wow factor or element of interest.
2. Unlike traditional advertising viral is not an interruptive technique. Instead, viral campaigns work the Internet to deliver exposure via peer-to-peer endorsement. Viral campaigns, whether ultimately liked or disliked, are often welcomed by the receiver. The focus is on campaigns with material that consumers want to spend time interacting with and spreading proactively.

viral marketing disadvantages

Viral marketing, like all marketing is hit or miss. However, viral marketing by nature is often more risky or controversial than traditional marketing. If done improperly viral marketing can backfire and create negative buzz.

The Marketing Mix:

Viral marketing is by no means a substitute for a comprehensive and diversified marketing strategy and marketing objectives. In employing viral marketing to generate peer-to- peer endorsement, brands have also learned that the technique should not be considered as a standalone miracle worker.

James Kydd, Brand Director for Virgin Mobile who just launched the 11th release in their successful series of viral marketing campaigns, states, “viral marketing is best used not as a one-off tactical end in itself, but as an integrated strategic part of the overall marketing mix. It is a means to an end whereby it not only generates buzz, but also provides ongoing, quantifiable brand benefits, such as increased awareness, peer-to-peer endorsement and ultimately more sales.”

 

Will Online Marketing Work for Your Business?

This is an extremely difficult question to answer because there are so many complex factors involved. Specifically, the techniques you employ in your Internet marketing campaign, as well as the execution of those techniques, can determine whether Internet marketing will work for your business. Additionally, the likelihood of your target audience using the Internet and responding to your marketing efforts should also be factored into the equation. This article will outline the potential for success in an Internet marketing campaign.

When is Internet Marketing Worthwhile?
In general, the answer to this question is always but the answer is much more involved. Sure, Internet marketing is worthwhile but as with any type of marketing it is only worthwhile if it is done well. For example, you can spend thousands of dollars on a television marketing campaign but if no one sees your commercials or your commercials do not reach your target audience and generate sales, the advertising was not worthwhile. So, perhaps a more appropriate answer to this question would be that Internet marketing is worthwhile when it works.

What is your target audience?
Before making the decision to embark on an Internet marketing campaign you should carefully consider your target audience. One of the most basic principles of marketing is to make sure that you reach your target audience. This is so important because your target audience is composed of the people who are most likely going to be interested in purchasing your products or services. It is much easier to sell your products or services to those who already have an interest in the products and services you have to offer than it is to convince those who are not interested in your products or services at all. As an example, consider a business that sells fishing rods. You will want to market your products to those who enjoy fishing either competitively or as a leisure activity because, with this audience, you are likely to find people who may be interested in purchasing a new fishing rod. It would make sense to place an advertisement for your business on a website selling bait and tackle or a website that organizes fishing trips in exotic locations. Conversely, it would not make sense to place your advertisement on a website selling telescopes because you are not likely to reach a large target audience there. There may be some stargazers with an interest in fishing but your advertising dollars and efforts would be better spent placing advertisements with websites more closely related to your business.

Analyze your competition
Conducting a competitor analysis can do a great deal to help you determine whether you should invest in an Internet marketing campaign for your business. This step is very important because it will give you a good indication if you should even begin marketing your business on the Internet. Hiring a firm that specializes in Internet marketing is recommended because they can conduct this research quickly and efficiently and will likely gain a great deal of valuable information as a result of their research efforts. If they determine that your business can benefit from an Internet marketing campaign, it is time to start thinking about how you want to advertise your business online.

Again, seeking the help of professionals can be an extremely worthwhile investment. If you are not well versed in the industry of Internet marketing, hiring a firm with a great deal of expertise in this industry can be very helpful. They can assist you by consulting with you to determine which marketing strategies will be most effective, designing advertisements for your campaign, helping you to orchestrate your Internet marketing campaign and evaluating the results of marketing efforts to determine which strategies are working and which are not.

Optimize your online marketing
The potential for success with an Internet marketing campaign is virtually limitless. The success you enjoy is only limited by your ability to promote your products and services and execute effective marketing strategies. Some of the marketing strategies you may wish to employ may include optimizing your website for relevant search terms, placing links to your website judiciously on the Internet, writing and publishing e-newsletters and using affiliates to promote your website.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most important aspects of any Internet marketing campaign. SEO is so important because it dictates the ranking of your website on popular search engines. Internet users value these results and are not likely to seek out websites that do not rank well with search engines. Conversely, high-ranking websites can enjoy a great deal of increased website traffic as a result of these rankings.

There are several elements to consider when attempting to optimize your website for search engines. This may include keyword density, prominence, META tags, titles and inbound links. Keyword density is one of the most common SEO strategies and essentially involves using relevant keywords often in the content of a website to demonstrate the relevance of these keywords to the website. This is important because search engines are likely to reward websites with optimal keyword densities with favorable search engine rankings in an effort to provide Internet users with the most relevant websites for particular search terms.

The prominence of keywords should also be considered. This includes how close the keywords are placed relative to the beginning of the website. The common mistake with this strategy is to believe the first opportunity to incorporate keywords is in the first line of visible text on the webpage. This is not true because search engines crawl the code of a website as opposed to the visible content on the website. This means that there are multiple opportunities to incorporate relevant keywords long before the actual visible content on the website. This might include the code for the title as well as the META tags. Business owners who realize the potential for incorporating keywords into the code gain an advantage over competitors who only incorporate keywords into the content on their website.

 

What Magic Happens When A Business Marketing Plan Comes Together?

For most business owners the key to success lies in a solid marketing plan with strong marketing tactics.

A marketing plan is a blueprint that outlines a company’ overall marketing efforts.

There are a ton of plan templates readily available on the internet.

Taking advantage of these plan templates and marketing calendars can help determine the success or failure of your business in 2015

Now, what happens when a marketing plan comes together?

1. You will discover who your best most important audience is and what your clients want from you

Hopefully you are creating and offering products and services with a specific target audience in mind.

However, you may find that clients, customers and patients other than your targeted audience will also been able to benefit from what you have to offer.

Understanding who your audience is a key component in marketing, sales and improving your services and/or products.

2. Increases awareness of your company

Most people won’t pay any attention to your company, unless they need you. They only care about themselves, it human nature.

A marketing plan enables you to formulate a way to help future clients see the benefits of using your product or service. When done right, this establishes your credibility in the marketplace and hopefully solidifies your business as a reliable source.

3. You will be prepared.

When you have a good marketing strategy you’ll be surprised at how fast your company will be able to respond to unexpected marketing and developments from your competition.

A well-written plan that covers all bases will include a projection on possible threats and detailed ways you can respond or capitalize off them.

4. Obtaining Finance

Companies, including small businesses often need to acquire extra financing.

A well-thought out business plan along with detailed marketing is evidence of good planning which could be extremely helpful in obtaining loans.

Without a solid business plan and marketing strategy, even the most profitable business would have a difficult time getting financing. Free sample marketing plans are readily available online, they can serve as good examples while saving you time creating your documents.

5. Save Money

One of the biggest benefits of a marketing strategy that your business is more likely to save money.

The average marketing plan includes a set budget that will be used in your marketing efforts for the year.

Yes, by outline your marketing plans, and specifying how much money is going to be used to support various marketing efforts it helps your company save a lot of money on unplanned marketing campaigns.

If you and your team hasn’t sat down to develop a marketing plan for the year, it’s time to do so now.

Start off with a marketing template to help outline your company’s marketing strategies the expand from there.

There are so many benefits from having a marketing plan that it would be insane to start 2015 without one.

 

How to Make Money Investing in Stocks in Any Market

Nobody can always make money investing in stocks (also called equities), but those who outperform year after year do so by applying two basic concepts. Here we will use 2015 and 2016 as an example because they promise to be challenging years. We’re not talking about finding tomorrow’s glamour stocks or short-term trading here. We’re talking about two important and basic market concepts that many investors either are not aware of, or that they overlook at their own expense.

Concept #1 refers to the cyclical nature of markets. Prices will always fluctuate, but there are reoccurring and identifiable price trends that can either make you or break you. A trend of rising prices is called a “bull market”, and just about anybody can make money investing in stocks in these “good” markets. The good news is that they often last for several years. The bad news is that they are always followed (sooner or later) by a trend of falling prices which is called a “bear market’, or simply a “bad” market for most investors.

The good news is that bear markets (like the last two) sometimes last for less than two years. The bad news is that they can be swift and brutal – creating losses of 50% or more for investors (like in the last two bear markets). The other bad news is that very few investors ever make money investing in stocks in a bear market. More bad news: if you lose half your money in a bad market, you then need to double your money in the next good market in order to simply break even.

As I look forward to 2015 and 2016, I also look back to the years 2000 and 2007. Both years were the beginning of bear markets that followed good markets. Both created 50% losses in less than two years and wiped out most of the profits investors earned in the preceding good markets. As of 2015, the current bull market that started in early 2009 is almost six years old. The stock market has again hit all-time highs. The challenge now is how to make money investing in stocks in 2015 and beyond if a new bear market hits in 2015 or 2016.

As we move on to concept #2, note that we are not talking about how to avoid losses in a bear market, but how to actually make money investing in stocks. You can always avoid losses by getting out while you are ahead, or you can reduce losses by cutting your asset allocation to stocks.

While just about everyone knows that you can make money investing in stocks when you buy them and equities prices rise… most folks do not know that you can also bet that prices will fall and make money if they do. This is called taking a “short” position. It’s legal, and has been going on for many years. During the Great Depression some people in the know got filthy rich “going short”; and during the financial crisis of 2007- 2008 you could have made big bucks betting against the market as well.

This is concept #2 and is the flip side of how markets work. The good news is that it will be easier than ever to make this bet in 2015 and 2016. The bad news is that it’s not for everyone, because you can take significant losses if you go here and prices move UP, against you. Actually, I’ve known people who are repulsed by the concept and some who even think that it’s un-American and should be illegal. That having been said, it’s a fact of life and part of the free-market system we live in.

It’s never easy to make money investing in stocks by going “short” because the market trend over the long term has been up. On the other hand, when the market goes south you won’t make money investing in stocks any other way. You’ll lose it along with about 98% of investors. The easiest way to short the market these days is to simply buy stocks called INVERSE EXCHANGE TRADED FUNDS (ETFs). Popular examples (stock symbols) include DXD, SDS, and QID. In order, these allow you to short the three major indexes: the Dow, the S&P 500, and the NASDAQ.

These (and other) inverse ETFs are designed to go UP in price when the market indexes go DOWN. In fact, if the index goes down 1% they are designed to go up 2%. If you want to try to make money investing in stocks in a bad market, inverse ETFs are the simplest way to do it. They can be easily bought and sold through a discount broker for about $10 per trade.

Above all else, keep the concept of bull and bear markets in mind in your endeavor to make money investing in stocks in 2015, 2016 and well beyond. While a rising tide lifts all boats, a falling tide can leave them dead in the water. If you are adventuresome and can handle the risk, you now know how to make money investing in stocks when the tide goes out.