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Viral Events – Starting a Positive Epidemic

Why I’m an Advocate for Starting a Positive Epidemic

And as times get tough, people hold their wallets a bit tighter. They shun “marketing.” You probably know the feeling when you’re being “sold” something. It’s a revulsion to the pariah that’s in front of you telling you lies through that great big smile.

Good marketing is graceful, inviting and above all, invisible.

Bad marketing is the caveman with the club bashing you over the head with his bullshit until you buy his stuff.

My current loathing of a despicable marketing technique comes in the form of, “Hi, want a free report/whitepaper/video? Just give me your name and email address and I’ll send you a link to it.” After you give up your email address for, what turns out to be, some fluff content, you’re inundated with daily offers of, “the latest amazing secret to…”

I’m guessing that a large number of the gmail sites created are specifically made as dumping grounds for this dreck.

Now, who’s being served here? Not the victim (er, customer) because in order to get the one thing they’d like to see, they’ve got to surrender to a torrent of spam.

Not the marketer. People aren’t stupid. You burn them once with this deal they’re going to start gaming the system with fake email accounts.

We’ve become immune to this form of marketing. Much in the same way as banner ads, telemarketing and spam email.

Why is Word-of-Mouth Best

  • It’s organic – There are no hucksters or salespeople banging a pitch into your skull.
  • It’s Trustworthy – It’s your buddy, your mom, your best friend – someone that you trust bringing you this news.
  • It’s Free! – Need I say more?

I see or hear something interesting and tell you, my friends. You check it out and if you like it, you tell some of your friends. And so on.

If the content is good enough it may go viral. It just takes a small number of people to start the ball rolling.

But it takes the right people to start a viral event.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s 2000 book, Tipping Point, (an Amazon affiliate link) he shows us the similarities between viral events and epidemics. Like an epidemic, a viral event needs three elements to help it spread:

The Law of the Few
Only a select few people are capable of spreading this message.

The Stickiness Factor
The message needs to be memorable.

The Power of Context
The context of the environment has to be just right in order for the message to grow and become viral.

Let’s look at one of these factors today.

The Law of the Few

Gladwell describes three types of people who are “the few.”

Connectors
These are the people that link up the world. They’ve got a knack for making friends and acquaintances and an ability to cross over into different worlds.

These are the people that know everyone and live for the chance to introduce you to who they know.

“Oh, you’ve got a podcast… have you met (whomever)? She’s running a really successful show and is looking for someone like you to interview! I’ve got to introduce the two of you!”

Connectors are the bridge between you and the people you need to know.

Mavens
Did you ever know anyone that just had all the answers? I’m not talking about a know-it-all but someone who really could help you out. These are the people we rely upon to connect us with new information.

How did they come about their knowledge? Usually by solving a problem they themselves experienced. According to Gladwell, these folks are, “…information brokers, sharing and trading what they know.”

Mavens are the bridge between you and the knowledge you seek.

Salesmen
A salesmen, by Gladwell’s definition, isn’t necessarily a person in sales. A salesman is a persuader. Someone with extraordinary negotiation skills. Sometimes considered the charismatic or cool person of a group.

These are the peers we look to for approval to move forward, whether it’s a purchase or a style or a way of thinking.

Salesmen are the connection between you and the outcomes you want.

The Takeaway

Look to the people that surround you. They may be friends, family or listeners of your show. Which ones are the opinion leaders? Which ones are the early adopters? These are the people you need to target your message to. These are the people you need to embrace and make them feel a part of your show.

Whether you’ve got a podcast, a blog, a product or a service, if you can get this in front of those few (and your content is excellent), you stand a better chance to have your message go viral.

Is this all it takes?

No it isn’t.

In my next post I want to discuss the other two elements of Gladwell’s concept: The Stickiness Factor and the Power of Context.

What can you add to this?

How have opinion leaders and those early adopters of your shows helped you out?

About Jay Walsh

With a combined 25 years of design, marketing, podcasting, video and social media knowledge, Jay created ProPodder.com with the goal of helping you make a better podcast.

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