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Lighting the Match: Going Viral

By: Dave Berkus

 

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It doesn’t happen by accident. Not every new game site is a Club Penguin or Minecraft. Not every social network is a Facebook or Instagram. Not every texting application is a Twitter.

 
What are the elements needed to focus upon in making the attempt to take a product viral? Intrigued by the thought, I recently made a list. It was as much in reaction to my getting blank stares from entrepreneurs when I asked that question as it was for me to better understand the problem itself. Here is my list.
 
First: Planning. Retail or end user web sites do not even receive limited notice without being discovered through a real marketing program, aimed at finding the flywheel effect (the moment of going viral that makes all the difference between failure and success.) In today’s world of social marketing, it takes someone knowledgeable if not expert in understanding how to use available resources in promotion and marketing.
 
Second: Channels. I am a past chairman of a company that distributes its product through over one hundred fifty retail Internet travel channels, all websites where someone else spent the money attracting their users and attempting to go viral. We could not have begun to reach a fraction of that audience with any amount of money if we did not reach through these channels. Sometimes, it is just the right idea to brand your product inside that of a known presence.
 
Third: Cost. Even a great marketing plan to gain an audience fails if there is not enough money to prime the pump. And of course sometimes that requires a large amount, far beyond the capability of small companies looking for its initial audience.
 
Fourth: Measurement. If you can’t measure the results of your attempts to gain a viral response, how can you know when to focus upon reinforcing or changing the effort? Well-tuned metrics are an absolute must. And the tools for most are available, sometimes free, for the educated marketer.
 
Fifth: Reaction. If everything goes right in finding the right plan, channel, cost and measure of success, and if you do nothing to reinforce the success or change the focus, the rest of the effort can easily die a slow death.
 
And sixth: the Pivot. A reaction is not often enough. Many times, it takes an intelligent repositioning of the entire offering to try again from the start with revised ideas based upon learned experience.
 
It’s a cycle that must be learned and followed in order to successfully maximize an opportunity in any industry and for any company. So, where in that cycle are you today?
 
This article was originally published by Berkonomics
Published: October 20, 2014
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Dave Berkus

Dave Berkus is a noted speaker, author and early stage private equity investor. He is acknowledged as one of the most active angel investors in the country, having made and actively participated in over 87 technology investments during the past decade. He currently manages two angel VC funds (Berkus Technology Ventures, LLC and Kodiak Ventures, L.P.) Dave is past Chairman of the Tech Coast Angels, one of the largest angel networks in the United States. Dave is author of “Basic Berkonomics,” “Berkonomics,” “Advanced Berkonomics,” “Extending the Runway,” and the Small Business Success Collection. Find out more at Berkus.com or contact Dave at dberkus@berkus.com

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