Does too Much Reliance on Viral Marketing Limit Growth Potential?

By Hugh MacLeod (

This morning I read an interesting post, Advertising is the cost of being boring, by Andy Sernovitz. In his post, Andy states that if you please your customers by making a great product that they will want to talk about; they will talk about it and essentially market your product for you, for free.

Andy is referring to the power of Word of Mouth (i.e. Viral) marketing. Certainly, when properly managed, viral marketing can be a very powerful weapon in the marketer’s arsenal for many reasons, including:

  • People are expanding the reach of your marketing campaign by spreading information about your product to those who might otherwise not see or be responsive to your message.
  • People receiving the viral message will likely have some form of relationship with the person spreading it. As a result, that endorsement will likely receive greater consideration by the recipient.
  • When others spread your message for you, your cost is essentially zero.

The Holy Grail

Sure, it’s great to have a product that people will talk about and enthusiastically recommend; it’s one of the holy grails of marketing. Unfortunately, Andy’s forgetting that products don’t exist in a vacuum. There’s competition out there and you can’t assume that they’re not doing everything they can to get the word out about their products.

Regardless whether you call it ‘impressions’ or ‘top of mind awareness,’ you must make sure that people are getting exposed to your product, brand or message on a regular basis through every channel available to you.

Social Media Marketing is Powerful, but…

I know this may sound strange coming from someone who is such a strong proponent of social media marketing, but the reality is that too much dependence on any single channel (in this case, viral marketing) can not only limit the reach and effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, it can limit your ability to expand overall market share. Here’s why:

  • Your Spreaders (the people who are most likely to virally distribute your message) are already customers.
  • Spreaders could focus on selling points that might not be part of your primary value proposition.
  • Spreaders might unintentionally distort your message causing confusion.
  • A Spreaders’ connections and influence may not reach far into the desired market.
  • A Spreaders’ enthusiasm may wane, and this could happen at a critical time.

While these points may sound like reasons for you not to engage in social media marketing, that is NOT the case. My point is that social media marketing MUST be a PART of your campaign, but not the ONLY part.

What do you think? Please leave me a Comment and let me know.

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Filed under Social Media, Viral Marketing

3 responses to “Does too Much Reliance on Viral Marketing Limit Growth Potential?

  1. Pingback: Does too Much Reliance on Viral Marketing Limit Growth Potential? | ODM Group

  2. Pingback: Does too Much Reliance on Viral Marketing Limit Growth Potential? « The ODM Group

  3. Pingback: Does too Much Reliance on Viral Marketing Limit Growth Potential? « The ODM Group

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