Who says I can’t be bought?

The key to a good marketing campaign these days is to start small.

That’s what The Ryde, a cool vintage T-Shirt site, have done by sending me some great new T-shirts, including this one and this one.

No doubt, a blogger-relations program is something that anybody should consider as a way of getting their word out about their product or service. But all too often, marketers will just choose a select list of A-List bloggers to reach out to, and hope that they orchestrate a word-of-mouth wildfire in the process.

A-List bloggers probably receive 10 requests like this a day. Even if your product or service is remarkable, the bigger bloggers are less likely to talk about you, because they just won’t have as much time.

My advice – start small. Reach out to C and D list bloggers like me instead. You’re more likely to gain flattery, which will ensure that the buzz will spread. Admittedly, you won’t get the overnight success. But these days, overnight success is pretty rare.

This is the first time anyone has sent me something to review or talk about on my blog. And naturally I’m going to. Not because I’ve been bought or bribed, but because I’ve been flattered. Someone has actually taken the time to reach me on a one-to-one basis, and so of course I’m going to spread the word about The Ryde.

I’ve had a truly excellent experience of this brand, and that’s why I’m letting you know. And I bet there’s others out there who are talking about The Ryde too.

So thanks to the Ryde for these cool T-shirts, one of which I’m proudly wearing today. Make sure you check out their T-shirts too, there’s plenty o’ goodness in their range.

What Everybody Ought to Know About Viral Marketing

This weeks’ Viral Marketing phenomenon is the Cadbury Gorilla. Except that it isn’t.cadbury.jpg

It’s a funny video of a gorilla playing the drums along to Phil Collins. Who wouldn’t want to pass it on? It’s been posted to YouTube as well. So Cadbury and their agency can expect plenty of people to view it.

But does it sell Chocolate bars? I doubt it. As funny as it is, there is no correlation between forwarding this video on to your friends to buying chocolate bars. So we can’t really call this viral marketing, can we?

Let’s make the distinction between “viral” and “viral marketing”.

“Viral” is easy. A teenager can videotape themselves singing in their bedroom and it can go viral. A Facebook group about Pluto can go viral. And a chocolate bar company can film a funny gorilla, and it can “go viral”. Just make something funny, quirky, and easy to spread.

Viral Marketing is, well, something else.

The term ‘Viral Marketing’ was made popular by Steve Jurvetson, a venture captalist, when describing Hotmail’s practice of adding the phrase “Get Your Private, Free Email from Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com”. By making the product part a strong part of the message, and intertwining the product benefit (free, private email in this case), you could assume that this was a viral marketing success.

The days of a free email address being an exciting proposition are long gone. And this example of viral marketing is cliched. So let’s move into the naughties.

Nowadays, marketing philosophers (myself included) will annoy the pants off you by saying, “You have to remarkable to be remarked about” and “You can’t be a viral marketing success with having a product or service that’s truly viralworthy”. Or some similar schtick. But I’m afraid it’s true. As Seth Godin defined it:

Viral marketing is a special case of an ideavirus. Viral marketing is an ideavirus in which the medium of the virus is the product. It’s an idea where the idea is the amplifier.

That said, let’s look at some more recent examples to explain Viral Marketing.

  • Threshers wine chain in the UK offered a 40% off discount voucher online last Christmas … it started small but in the end was downloaded by millions of people.
  • Movember – now there’s a clever viral campaign. The annual “Grow a moustache in November for charity” campaign is classic is viral marketing, because every willing participant is sporting a ridiculous (yet charitable) set of handlebars for an entire month.

The three above are all valid examples of viral marketing. The spreadworthy nature of the blendtec videos was the blender. The spreadworthy deal at Threshers was Threshers. And the message that the mo’ spreads is Movember.

As people spread the message, they spread it about thing that was originally intended to spread. That, my friends, it viral marketing.

And I’m reluctant to mention Facebook. But Facebook has been an example of Viral marketing too. Because the benefit of being on Facebook (“I keep in touch with my friends”) is linked to the sign-up effect of Facebook (Hooly-dooly, look how many of my friends are already on facebook”).

Now, I’m not suggesting that Viral Marketing is easy. The internet has made it soooo much easier to spread a message. But still, Viral marketing isn’t easy. Far from it.

But if the product (or at least the offer linked to the product) is talkworthy, and you link it to a medium that it easy to spread, it just might spread.

The million dollar question? How could Cadbury have made their online gorilla viral campaign a VIRAL MARKETING campaign?

That’s the subject of another post. Stay tuned.

10 rules of effective green marketing

Hugh Hough of Green Team has posted the 10 rules of effective green marketing over at the EcoAmerica blog.

This is a terrific list for companies who are just starting to make the move into green marketing. If your business is thinking about becoming green, and how to market yourselves, this is a good place to start.

Here it is:

1. Forget “green.” Okay, you don’t really want to forget it, but you do want to think beyond it. Being environmentally responsible is important, but today’s Awakening Consumers are looking for more. They’re looking at how your brand addresses all three pillars of sustainability: environmental impact, social impact, economic feasibility.

2. Walk before you talk. Don’t make any sustainability claims until you can back them up. Completely. This may seem obvious, but you’d be amazed at how often marketers want to cut corners and make claims they’re not ready to. And that’s a recipe for disaster.

3. Just the facts, ma’am. Don’t tell me what a great corporate citizen you are, tell me what you’re doing, and I’ll make that determination on my own. Simply stating the facts surrounding your sustainability efforts allows you to talk about them without coming across as smug or self-congratulatory. No one likes a show-off.

4. Let someone else tell your story. Nothing is better than a credible third-party endorsement. This is where a partnership with a respected non-profit that shares your values is especially beneficial. Allow your partner to tell the world what you’re doing together.

5. Keep it simple, make it relevant. Your sustainability initiatives should feel like a natural extension of your brand. Several years ago, Green Team did a campaign highlighting Jaguar Car’s partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society to save jaguars in the wild. Jaguar helping jaguars. Its simplicity and relevance made it successful.

6. Look inside. It’s critically important to engage your employees in your sustainability initiatives. With that in mind, look to the people within your own organization for ideas. This is how the partnership between Yoplait yogurt and Susan G. Komen For The Cure came to be. The cause was initially embraced by Yoplait employees on a grass roots level, then ultimately adopted by the brand itself.

7. Money isn’t everything. Sure, financially supporting a sustainability campaign is important, but don’t just write a check and walk away. Look for synergies between your brand and the cause. Involve people on both sides. Involve consumers. Be creative.

8. Tell the truth, the whole truth. Corporate transparency is now the way of the world. Consumers, especially Awakening Consumers, don’t expect you to be perfect, but they do expect you to be honest. Admit your flaws, and let people know what you’re doing to fix them.

9. Be genuine. Sustainability initiatives and sustainable marketing has to be real and authentic. It needs to be embraced by everyone involved with the brand, from the person who answers the phone to the CEO. It should be part of your brand’s DNA, not some superficial, jumping-on-the-bandwagon gesture. To help avoid this, think long term, and think big.

10. Have fun. We’ve created ads for a global warming campaign that are laugh out loud funny. Humor may not be right for every topic or communication, but how many doom-and-gloom people do you like to hang out with?

Hat-tip to Ivan for the link.