Viral marketing is a lot like a high stakes poker game: there’s a small financial cost, a massive branding cost, and some huge potential payoffs.
Extending it even further, once the cards are dealt and the marketing message is out of the bag, there’s no way to retract it, no way to push it further, and no way to turn a partial failure into a success.
Everything rests on the quality of the hand – in this case, the story – and everything extends from the initial bet.
These five tips aren’t poker tips, but they’d surely translate.
If you’re building a viral marketing strategy, invest in these nuggets of wisdom and make sure that they’re part of the DNA of your campaign.
1. Micro-test your campaign before you start.
Just like a poker player tests the waters pre-flop, you need to test your audience before you go wide with your marketing efforts. A great way to do this is to run small, simple Adwords campaigns, monitor interest for each title, advertising copy and message, and use the most effective as the basis for your viral marketing message.
2. Go for your core audience first.
In every major poker game, there are two people that continually come up against one another. By focusing on what that player’s doing, you can estimate group reactions, bet strategically, and play effectively. Your marketing efforts need to be similar. Go for the most important audience first, and let the message spread as a result of their enthusiasm. Invest in the most valuable strategic resource and you’ll need a smaller initial investment, and a larger payoff.
3. Go for the big wins.
There’s no point bluffing every hand and picking up the blinds. Sure, you’ll win money, but at a glacial pace. Your marketing campaign needs to aim for the big wins — the audiences that can bring massive sales and income. Shoot for the small, steady groups and you’ll have a constant flow of very little income. Go for the big fish and you’ll end up with more cash, more leads, and greater marketing success.
4. Bet sensibly.
The guy that goes all in on every hand is only ever going to win a fraction of the time. Remember that viral marketing is a tool, and isn’t something that can propel your business to massive success all the time. Back up your viral marketing efforts with some real, sustainable marketing and you’ll see those customers return, your brand grow, and clients come back for more and more business.
5. Think two moves ahead.
What are you going to do after your viral campaign dies out? The biggest problem with relying on viral marketing alone is that it never sustains itself. Smart poker players look two plays ahead, and work out where their opponents are going to be. Run your campaign the same way — invest in large-scale marketing for afterwards, prepare for the new business, and get ready to think long-term.