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I just finished reading a whitepaper I downloaded giving advice on what a company can do to ENSURE their campaigns go viral .  This got me thinking, it’s my opinion that no one can promise or commit to a client that they will deliver what will become the next big viral marketing sensation.  That’s like promising a client a 5% ROI on a direct mail campaign when you know damn well you’ll be lucky to see .5% – .75%!  I come from the school of under promise and over deliver so it pains me to see people make promises that can’t possibly be kept in order to win business. 

And just like any another form of marketing you can provide a foundation that is based on strategies and tactics that have been proven to be successful but at the end of the day it’s all very subjective and comes down to what the consumers respond to.  Case in point… Old Spice didn’t have a clue that The Old Spice Man would certainly become as big as it did while on the converse General Motor’s never predicted the annihilation of their “create your own advert” viral marketing campaign when the environmentalists created negative ads.

So, know that you know what I don’t believe is possible, let me tell what I think is totally plausible. If you have an innovative multi-channel marketing strategy the sum of those parts will “help” to create a viral outcome.  I think this is why a lot of marketers still have not embraced multi-channel / social marketing; they are looking for a one hit wonder and they forget that the rules Web 2.0 marketing are not very different from those of traditional marketing.  What I mean by this is that you still need to know you audience, decide what your objectives are, create a point of differentiation and all the other things required to develop a solid creative work brief. All that said, if you want a opportunity at going viral you need something with exceptional entertainment value, a great offer that the user will want and can use, instant gratification, uniqueness and something that is highly engaging.

One can only hope that whatever agency you are working with knows that these are table stakes and the foundation on which they develop all their marketing programs. In summary I’d like to refer to a quote in an article I just read that said “Viral marketing isn’t a strategy. It’s not even a tactic. Viral is a possible outcome that brings an unplanned life to a piece of advertising.” It then went on to say “The truth is that the most effective one can hope for is, to paraphrase Peter Shankman, CEO of The Geek Factory and PR/marketing warlord, to make your marketing great. If you’ve done that, the rest will take care of itself, and viral will simply be one of the lots of symptoms.”  I couldn’t have said it any better and I stand by this methodology and hope you embrace it too. 

Take Away

This bears repeating: Viral marketing  is NOT a strategy and it’s NOT even a tactic. Viral is the possible outcome that brings an unplanned life to a piece of advertising.  Develop a sound multi-channel marketing strategy that includes any or all of the following: landing pages, video, mobile, podcasts, social, video and never, ever forget to listen and engage

In my last blog we talked about how your most valuable customers might not be the biggest spenders but actually your biggest brand advocates and how these advocates could influence the spending power of hundreds of potential customers.  It’s that spirit that in today’s blog I’d like to discuss reward / loyalty approaches for this elite and not to be overlooked group of consumers.