|The single secret of
Internet marketing success is this: ideas that spread, win.
Every site that's ever succeeded has done so not with Super Bowl ads or
even banner ads, they've done it by creating an ideavirus. Successful songs,
brands, political campaigns, they all work because of the ideavirus.
An ideavirus is an idea that spreads with a power far greater than word
of mouth. Aided by digital networks, an ideavirus moves from person to
person, reaching far more people than advertising ever could.
So how do you create and start an ideavirus?
1. Make sure your idea is remarkable.
Boring ideas don't get spread. Me-too products don't get talked about.
We're now living in a world of fads and gimmicks and instant success. If
your product isn't remarkable, don't even start.
2. Identify your hive.
A hive is a group of people who both share an interest AND talk with each
other about it. If your remarkable product doesn't overwhelm a specific hive
of people, then it's much harder to spread the idea. Napster was remarkable
(free music!) and it was aimed at a specific hive: college students. Both
elements were critical in the rapid growth of the idea.
3. Make it easy to spread.
I call it smoothness. Check out vindigo.com if you haven't already. It's
a program that runs on your Palm. The cool part is that if you like it,
you'll tell a friend. And if they want it, you can beam the entire product
to them, for free, in less than a minute. That's smooth. Compare this to a
product with a long, complicated URL, or a company that puts new customers
on hold... the harder it is to tell your friends, the less likely you'll do
4. Make it persistent.
Once someone becomes a fan, can you keep them as one? Most marketers
forget that the best way to grow is to have the people who are already fans
keep telling people, as opposed to always trying to find new fans.
5. Understand sneezers.
Sneezers are the people who tell other people about what you're doing.
Some sneezers do it because they like the power that comes from finding and
spreading cool new ideas. Some sneezers, on the other hand, do it for money.
Don't confuse the two types, and make sure you give each person what they
6. Make a souvenir .
If your product is digital, it's awfully hard to
charge a lot for it. But a souvenir; the t-shirt, the hardcopy book, the
autograph, the live concert, the seminar, is priceless, and you can charge
7. You're not in charge.
Once you unleash an ideavirus, it's going to move through the hive at the
velocity it chooses, in the direction it chooses. You can influence, but you
8. Buy a lot of chips.
There are no guarantees. Plenty of ideavirus-worthy ideas never hit. No
one knows why (yet). So be ready with innovative, noteworthy, remarkable
products all the time.
9. Fill the vacuum.
What was the second brand of metal scooter? Everyone remembers the Razor.
Being second is boring and it rarely leads to success. You've got to be
first, to fill the vacuum.
10. Make good stuff.
I know I said this before in different words, but it's worth repeating.
The viruses that spread the best are the ones that deliver real benefits (I
didn't say morally redeeming, though... your product can be goofy but still
About the Author:
UNLEASHING THE IDEAVIRUS By Seth Godin
October 10, 2001 ISBN: 0-7868-8717-6 $14.00 Paperback
Seth Godin is the author of numerous books, including the national
bestseller Permission Marketing. He was the founder of Yoyodyne, the first
direct marketer on the Internet, which was acquired by Yahoo! in 1998. Godin
served as Vice President of Direct Marketing for Yahoo! until early 2000,
when he left to devote time to writing and speaking.