According to marketing mavens Dan Heath and Chip Heath it can be. Check out their “Made to Stick” section of the May 2009 Fast Company.

Viral marketing is kind of a 76-pound gor…err…800-pound gorilla that, as marketers, we’re supposed to be able to implement with a  simple snap of our fingers.

As we all know, it’s not that easy. But it appears it can be easier than often perceived. Or at least if you follow three simple guidelines it can be.

First, make sure your initiative connects emotionally. People share emotional experiences. This is a proven fact (again, see article linked above). Why? Because things that evoke an emotional response are things that we feel strongly about. They either bring a smile, a laugh or even a tear. Not for me – because I’m not sensitive. But I can’t help that. I watched a lot of John Wayne movies growing up. Anyway, you catch my drift.

Second. Does your piece have a public service component? By sharing with friends, does your viewer/audience feel as if they are making a difference in someone’s day? Think of the mass emails you pass along to friends and families. Why do you do it? Likely because it created an emotional response for you (aforementioned paragraph) and you want to do the same for someone else.

And third. Is there a trigger? Does something in your message trigger people to think about your brand or category? A trigger is essentially an environmental cue to talk about an idea (in this case, a brand). Does your message urge people to visit your website or buy your product? Often, this is best done subtly. But, that can prove to be quite tricky.

Want to take a stab at viral marketing? Great. Send this post to all of your friends!

Jon

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