There's lots of talk these days about viral marketing. We've spent many Jacobs Media memos and advisories over the years discussing the potential of listeners becoming the engine for spreading the word about your stations, morning shows, contests, and other content.
Much of this originated with the writing of Seth Godin, specifically his "Idea Virus" book, which set the tone for much of this marketing art. In his blog, Seth recently talked about what makes an idea viral, and the fact that no one sends something to someone else, unless:
- They understand it
- They want it to spread
- They believe that spreading it will enhance their power (reputation, income, friendships) or their piece of mind
- The effort necessary to send the idea is less than the benefits
Focus on #3 and #4. People will send your morning show bits, your weird pictures, your parody songs, your caption contests, and whatever other content you put out there IF it makes them look funnier and smarter. Most of the viral content that ends up in our email boxes tends to either be humorous, clever, or both. And that's a good thing, because in radio, most of our best content falls into those categories.
And of course, we have to make it easy. Most stations don't have the necessary mechanisms to make it simple to email ideas, pictures, or bits to friends. It's not nuclear physics, but receiving an email from a friend that says, "Look what I just sent you from The Hog's Bob & Brian" is wonderful, inexpensive marketing that has more value than TV commercials, billboards, or giving away free gas. Because it comes from a trusted friend or associate, it's the best kind of marketing going.
In these times where marketing dollars are precious or non-existent, focusing more energy on viral isn't just smart, it's essential.