Viral Marketing

Digital Marketing Tutorial

You’ve all probably heard the term “Viral Marketing” and read about several of the most successful viral marketing campaigns of all time, including Hotmail (free email) and Blue Mountain Arts (free greeting cards).

The idea is very straight forward – it’s basically super-charged online word-of-mouth marketing. But how does the average entrepreneur use viral marketing to promote his or her business?

The KEY concepts for a successful viral marketing campaign are that 1) whatever you create must be FREE, 2) it must be relevant to your business goals, 2) it must have perceived value, and 4) it must be easily transmitted to others by those who find it of value.

My effort at viral marketing is what you’re reading right now – the information on my Digital Marketing Tutorial Web site. Let’s examine how my viral marketing “campaign” is helping me meet my dual goals of gaining a reputation as a Digital Marketing expert and making a little money while doing so!

For openers, I’m sharing some of my insights into various aspects of Digital Marketing for FREE. By doing this, some might say that this activity is actually counter productive because Web surfers who read this Digital Marketing Tutorial will then be able to perform Digital Marketing tasks themselves, thereby depriving me of the potential income I could earn by performing those tasks for them. Now, if that was how I planned to monetize my Digital Marketing Tutorial, they’d be right, but it isn’t, so read on so I can show you the money!

After many tries at following various viral marketing “formulas”, I have come up with a different, and I think, easier and more intuitive path for would-be Web entrepreneurs to follow in order to tap into this type of free online word-of-mouth marketing.

Whether or not you have an existing Web site/business, the FIRST thing you need to figure out regarding viral marketing is what you are passionate about. Why? Because unless you are independently wealthy, you will probably be starting your Web enterprise as a part-time (early morning, after-work, weekends) effort. And the ONLY thing you’re going to be willing to do in those precious hours when you can do anything you want to do is something you’re truly passionate about.

At least that’s true for me!

Now comes the first problem as it relates to using online viral marketing techniques. What if your passion is building World War II model ships, or collecting a certain type of Hummel, or painting pictures of flowers only found in northern Vermont? In other words, your passion, like that of most folks, has nothing to do with the Internet/Web. No problem! The important thing is that you have a passion! And guess what – if it’s your passion, then it’s probably the passion of thousands of other folks around the world, and more importantly, it’s probably the interest of tens of thousands of others!

And that’s where the Web and viral marketing come in!

It’s those tens of thousands of INTERESTED folks that, with the help of the Web, will turn your passion into a second income, and possibly into enough of an income that you can quit your “real” job and live off your passion!

When I started thinking about viral marketing in these terms, it all became very simple for me to then see how I could develop my passion into a money-producing activity via the Web. Here’s the “Web logic” I used and the road map I recommend you follow:

  1. The Web is all about the exchange of information, usually at no charge
  2. Because of this, the single most important aspect of the Web is content
  3. Being found and highly ranked on the Web via search engines is all about having the most relevant content about a specific subject
  4. The Web is so large that it is fairly easy to find existing Web sites, email lists, and discussion forums about your area of interest/expertise (your passion)
  5. Visit these sites, join the email lists, enter the discussion forums that deal with your passion
  6. If possible, become an expert in the eyes of those already interacting on the Web about your area of interest

Now comes the moment of truth! It’s time to turn that passion of yours into Web content. But now you’re ready to make the time commitment to get that done because you are following your passion!

An even more difficult decision to make may come if you’ve already invested a fair amount of time and effort into building a Web site, but the content of that Web site has little or no relation to what you’re truly passionate about. Now you have to abandon that site or re-work it significantly to bring it into line with your true passion in life.

Getting a Web site up and running is not difficult. You can even start for zero incremental cost if you are already paying for a connection to the Internet/Web. For example, you could set-up a free blog on sites like WordPress.com and get started that way.

Once you’ve got some really interesting content on that Web site (or blog), then start letting folks know about it via those email lists and discussion forums you’re already participating in, and ask them to link to it from their sites, and you link to them from yours. Start an email newsletter that discusses new, interesting info about your subject area of interest (your passion).

How does this start to translate into cash?

If you make something, consider selling those items on the Web (you can use eBay as an intermediary to take care of online purchases, etc.)

If you’re an expert in a particular area, consider running ads on your site that let your visitors click on relevant items of interest, while you get paid a “commission” for directing your visitors to those items, whether they buy them or not! Check out Google AdSense to see what I’m talking about. Also charge for sponsoring (advertising in) your email newsletter, etc. (I told you I’d show you the money!)

You get the idea – now you can unleash all of those viral marketing tricks of the trade you read about because you have the KEY components to work with – unique, interesting Web content about a subject you are PASSIONATE about, and a large group of like-minded, interested Web constituents.

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