9 Viral Marketing Strategies for Your Business

Starting your own business is a thrilling career move. You are finally in control of every decision made related to your mission and goals. This does mean, however, that you are in charge of everything … including not only how you are going to develop a product or service, but how you are going to market it.

Things online don’t go viral out of the blue. There are specific things about them that keep people sharing and talking about them. If you want to bring more attention to your business, look into these 9 viral marketing strategies for your business.

1. Think outside the traditional sales email

Creative with Paints

There are a lot of ways to write unique sales pitches that grab readers’ attention and persuade them to click a “learn more” button, but this kind of strategy can’t be used all on its own if you’re hoping for good, viral marketing.

If you want your business to gain traffic, revenue or supporters because of a viral campaign, you need to get creative. The reason things go viral is because they are unique, often too good not to share. They make people laugh and think and, ideally, respond to some kind of call to action—something more than being asked to click a button in an email.

2. Aim to prompt an emotional response

Excited Children with Laptop

An effective viral marketing strategy prompts an emotional response from potential customers. Emotions are just as persuasive as anything else: think of how hard it is to not buy a T-shirt with a quirky saying that makes you laugh out loud.

These strategies can make people feel sad or happy or inspired. They are usually followed by a call to action, such as asking the viewer or reader to donate, subscribe or make a purchase. If potential customers have an emotional connection with a blog post or video or image, they might feel emotionally tied to your business as well. For example, we’re never going to buy a pack of Extra Gum again without tearing up a little bit (admit it).

3. Flip the funnel

Guys Talking on Bench

This is Seth Godin’s way of explaining how to put the messages you are trying to spread into the hands of ordinary people. Potential customers will trust their friends and those who have already purchased a product or service more than they will trust you.

The key to creating a viral marketing strategy, therefore, is to sit back and let word-of-mouth do much of the work for you. You still have to create a great platform and make your messages clear (and create a great product or service, obviously), but at some point you have to give up having full control and let new customers come to you.

4. Use real people to make it relatable

Real People Kids Old Man

When people see ads, they want to see something relatively relatable depending on the product or service. That’s why most commercials use real people to portray real situations.

When it comes to marketing your business, you need to be able to come up with a way to show people how your product or service is going to solve a specific and familiar problem. If you can tell or show real stories in doing this, you will see much better results than if you had kept it generic.

5. Involve the community

Passengers on a Train

Often companies will use social media to reach out to potential customers and ask them to be involved in a new process with the promise of some reward. Think of Lay’s asking people to create new chip flavors for the chance to win $1 million.

“Do Us a Flavor” went viral because it empowered people to create their own product, in a sense. Contests like these almost trick people into involving themselves with a brand, but in this case, it’s a good thing. You can bet the winners will continue talking about your business (and buying your chips, or whatever) for years to come.

6. Keep it current

Cabs driving in New York

As a business owner, paying attention to current events is essential when coming up with viral marketing strategies for your products or services. They can help you keep your strategies relevant in terms of what people are talking about. Join the conversation and send messages that matter.

7. Create sharable content

Cat with Mirror

For people to hear and learn more about your business, they need to be drawn to it. Creating sharable content is an effective strategy for drawing positive attention to your business. This might mean you create videos that link back to your website or blog posts that prove your expertise.

Sharable content is short, memorable and actionable. Most people do not want to view a video that is longer than two or three minutes, and most of them won’t read even a 500-word blog post. Make it interesting and meaningful.

8. Never make it about your business

Business Ideas on a White Board

As counter-productive as this sounds, the truth is, people really don’t care about your business. Instead, what they care about is how your business can make their lives better in some way. Always tailor your marketing strategies to your audience and how they can benefit from your business. Put them at the forefront, always.

9. Go to extremes

Extreme Skateboard Stunt

Have you heard of Blendtec? Maybe not, but you may have seen or heard of their Will It Blend? video series, in which the host uses a Blendtec blender to test whether or not random objects can be “blended.”

A viral marketing strategy sometimes means going a little extreme when promoting a product. A blender may not normally be used to “blend” an iPhone, but the fact that the host tried it is just wacky enough that people haven’t, and probably won’t, forget about Blendtec anytime soon.

The neat thing about viral marketing is that, if done correctly, any product or service can look amazing. It isn’t about the product or service itself, but how that product or service is presented to its potential customers. Dare to be creative and take chances. Market in ways no one has before. That is the kind of thinking a business owner needs to engage in if they are going to stand out.