“Going Viral”: A Marketing Trend That Doesn’t Call for Penicillin.

Purple Mattress Video campaign

Purple Mattress Video Campaign

Have you ever had a child come home sick from school?

Most of us know that once a virus hits a classroom…it’s likely to spread throughout the class. Eventually… the whole darn school is infected.

As a parent, you hope this epidemic can be nipped in the bud ASAP, but as a business owner, “GOING VIRAL” with your service or product could mean BIG money and exponential growth for your company.

Douglas Rushkoff coined the term “media virus” or “viral media” and defined it as a type of Trojan horse: “People are duped into passing a hidden agenda while circulating compelling content.” So… this gigantic wooden horse of compelling content is a necessary component to a successful branding campaign.

The first step is creating compelling content that will heighten the viewer’s emotional state of mind. Humor, fear, anger, sadness, tragedy and empathy are all typically associated with a state of heightened emotion.

Allow us to explain…

Isn’t it amazing how much more we remember about an event when it conjures an extreme emotional shift? For example- where were you on the morning of the 9/11 terror attacks? Take some time and think about the details of that day. (We can already hear the wheels turning…) We ask that question to test the “heightened emotional state” theory.

Typically, people quickly launch into a vivid list of details about their experience. Some could remember the song on the radio they were listening to when suddenly interrupted by the news of the first plane hitting the Trade Center. Others remember the color of the shirt they were wearing or the exact breakfast food items they were eating when they first heard the news.

How does our brain file this data away with such efficiency and attention to detail? Maybe you just have a very good memory! Ok…then tell us what you were doing on the morning of 9/10/2001.

It’s amazing, right? We’ve asked that same follow-up question to friends and colleagues and we get crickets and blank stares in return. Typically, they cannot recall that information as well (if at all) because nothing triggered any arousal in their emotional state.

For those of you who would like to investigate this phenomenon further, here is a link to a Wikipedia site with some interesting facts: click here!

Now that we have established why the memory tends to be more receptive to detail in a heightened emotional state, let’s talk about what this means for your business. The power of internet marketing is undeniable. Websites like YouTube, Vimeo and Break are circulating content all over the webisphere, and business owners are commanding a whole new kind of audience reach.

This is the power of “GOING VIRAL.” Your product is literally traveling, via internet video, into the offices and homes of millions of potential customers. They don’t open the video expecting an advertisement, either. They open it because someone posted it on Facebook or Twitter with a “LOL” (laugh out loud) included with the post, or a personal testimony that the video is worth a watch.

Squatty Potty

Squatty Potty

What can be more valuable than that? The initial investment towards making this video is literally pennies on the dollar when you think of the potential ROI. Need more proof? Here’s one strong example: The Squatty Potty Video.

This now widely considered hilarious gem was put together by a branding company called The Harmon Brothers. They created a brilliant and colorful (pun intended) video that advertises a product that aids in the excrement of your bowels.

Over 50 million people have viewed that Squatty Potty commercial on Facebook and Youtube. Within months of the video going viral, the business reported a 600% jump in online sales and a 400% increase in their Bed Bath and Beyond store retail sales.

Although silly/risqué humor isn’t the best method of advertising for every product, the inventor of the Squatty Potty realized that a seriously embarrassing health topic was best presented through “tongue and cheek” humor. This brought The Squatty Potty (originally a home-based business with sales in the toilet—pun intended again), into the homes of millions of new potential consumers! All of this from ONE video. Brilliant, right?

What is the key to making a successful online video campaign? In the words of Jeffrey Harmon, “In reality, the actual product or service is only one part of what we consume when we buy something. The rest is all part of the branding experience. You can’t remove the context surrounding the product—you are buying the experience as much as you are buying the thing.”

What sets that product or service apart from the rest? Does it function better? Is it more affordable? Who needs this product and why? How do you deliver that message?

Here is a list of points that can help you discover the most appropriate method of delivering your product’s message:

1. Selling Points

Finding a humorous way to communicate the message of your product can be difficult. However, if you sit down and create a list of selling points about the product, a story or relatable theme might come to mind. Ideally it would be a funny personal story, a theme from a childhood fairytale or even the plot of your favorite movie. If you can somehow find an emotionally charged connection to the selling points of your product, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to brainstorm a commercial script outline from the bones of that story.

2. Enlist Funny People!

We all have friends, family or colleagues who are the life of the party. These are the folks who you should hire (or ask to help) you with your content. Make it a social event! Invite your funny team to dinner and pour some cocktails before presenting the product. List the selling points on a white board while you’re explaining the product. Tell them to try to relate to the product through a personal story and just see what comes up! People naturally try to relate to this challenge…and funny people love to find really creative ways to tell their stories. They WANT the laughs! Authentic and relatable stories are a great platform for any advertisement- but bringing humor into the mix can really increase the chances that the video will be shared through the aforementioned media channels.

3. Hire a reputable creative services company for production

This may be the scariest part of the process…because creating a concise marketing plan is not every business owner’s forte. Finding a company (eh hem…you may have already found us! Epiphany Creative Services) who specialize in the entire spectrum of digital online branding/marketing will be crucial to accomplishing a successful media campaign. The team who will develop your idea and eventually bring the concept to fruition has one goal in mind (and it’s surprisingly similar to yours…) THE TEAM WHO WANTS TO SELL YOUR PRODUCT. The recipe for potential viral video success (We say potential because “going viral” shouldn’t be the initial goal) is to build your brand’s reputation through engagement and emotionally impactful content.

The goal is to create a loyal and dedicated fan base. Your fans will perceive the message as humorous, alarming or powerful…which is something that they will WANT to share with their friends.

Remember what we said about heightened emotions? When you successfully create the “Trojan Horse” to deliver your content to the consumer, they will associate your product to that period of heightened emotion. Effectively, the product will be associated to their emotional memory. (The same memory used during the 9/11 discussion earlier.) This is such a powerful and very untapped market. We think it’s something worth investigating because you never know when you’ll go VIRAL. …But we hope that you do!!! ☺

Team Member Trish Noe was the creative writer of this article.

We hope you found it enjoyable and informative!

Email us: info@epiphanycreativeservices.com

Call: 615.491.3653

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