Unleashing The IdeaVirus by Seth Godin: Notes
ideas grow in strength as they are delivered to more people
the idea is to create an environment where consumers will market to each other
ideas, not products, are the engine of our new economy
the currency of our future is ideas, and the ideavirus mechanism is the way those ideas propagate
Instead of talking TO customers, it is your job to help customers talk to EACH OTHER
in creating an ideavirus, the advertiser creates an environment in which the idea can replicate and spread. its the virus that does the work, not the marketer
concentration – tipping point / facebook effect
key steps for companies looking to build a virus:
1. create a noteworthy online experience that as either totally new or makes the user’s life much better. Or make an offline experience better/faster/cheaper so that switching is worth the hassle
2. Have the idea behind your online experience go viral, bringing you a large chunk of the group you’re targeting WITHOUT having to spend a fortune advertising the new service
3. Fill the vacuum in the marketplace with YOUR version of the idea, so that competitors now have a very difficult time of unteaching your virus and starting their own.
4. Achieve “lock in” by creating larger and larger costs to switching from your service to someone else’s
5. Ger permission from users to maintain an ongoing dialogue so you can turn the original attention into a beneficial experience for users and an ongoing profit stream for you.
6. Continue creating noteworthy online experiences to further spread new viruses, starting with your core audience of raving fans
viral marketing – an ideavirus in which the carrier of the virus IS the product
Goal – create a product that is a virus in and of itself
suddenly it wasn’t about the food/product, it was about the experience (waiting in line for an hour)
Ideas aren’t a sideshow that make our factory a little more valuable. Our factory is a sideshow that makes our ideas a lot more valuable.
– its all about the idea
The difference between word of mouth and idea virus:
1. word of mouth tends to spread slower, be more analog. you might tell a friend or 2 but it dies out after that
2. word of mouth dies off
There’s a tremendous hunger to understand the new and to remain on the cutting edge.
As our world changes faster and faster, knowing is just as important as having
If something is new and different and exciting and getting buzzed about, we want to know about it, be part of it. the fashion is now to be in fashion and ideas are the way we keep up.
– you as the consumer win for recommending it to a friend. this increases your status as having influence
– the recipient benefits as well
– the creator of the idea succeeds b/c her idea propagates and because she can sell souvenirs to people who are now open and receptive to her idea
Give people a reason to listen and then create an infrastructure that will amplify their ability to spread word of mouth. core to both of these tasks is the new respect that marketers need to show newly powerful consumers.
HOW TO UNLEASH AN IDEAVIRUS:
types of sneezers:
can be motivated by money or other inducements
rarely held in high esteem as opinion leaders, but if they’re promiscuous enough, they can be extremely effective
(people who are willing to sell to their friends for personal gain)
he cant be bought
every time he accepts a bribe, his power decreases
How to attract and keep promiscuous sneezers?
1. make big promises
2. show them how to make it up in volume – show the user the system can be gamed! if they work hard enough, the odds go way up
3. describe an attainable path
4. when someone succeeds, tell the rest of them
5. give the successful ones a way to show the non-sneezers it worked
6. have a mary kay convention
1. change the rules in the middle
2. view the relationship as an expense
1. an idea merchant understands that creating the virus is the single most important part of her job. So she’ll spend all her time and money on creating a product and environment that feeds the virus.
2. An idea merchant understands that by manipulating the key elements of idea propagation – the velocity, the vector, the smoothness, the persistence and the identification of sneezers- she can dramatically alter a virus’s success.
3. the idea merchant remembers that digital word of mouth is permanent written record online, a legacy that will follow the product, for good or for ill, forever
4. an idea merchant realizes that the primary goal of a product or service is not just to satisfy the needs of one user. it has to deliver so much wow, be so cool, so neat and so productive that the users tells FIVE friends. Products market themselves by creating and reinforcing ideaviruses
5. an idea merchant knows that the ideavirus follows a lifecycle and decides at which moment to shift from paying to spread it to charging the user and profiting from it.
Once it does spread, an ideavirus follows a lifecycle. ignore the lifecycle and the ideavirus dies out. feed it properly and you can ride it for a long time.
Viral marketing is a special case of an ideavirus. Viral marketing is an ideavirus in which the medium of the virus IS the product. It’s an idea where the idea IS the amplifier.
Nobody spreads an ideavirus as a favor to you….. They do it because its remarkable, thought provoking, important, profitable, funny, horrible or beautiful. if its not compelling, it will never lead to an ideavirus.
GOAL: create products so dynamic and virus worthy that you EARN the attention
3 things to focus on for spreading an ideavirus
1. How bid do you launch? – the more people who can see it fast, the faster it will spread
2. How smooth is it? – persistence pays off
3. How can you turn trial into persistence?
3 things to augment an ideavirus:
1. get permission to follow up: make it easy for me to learn about why I should embrace this idea over time
2. make as many supporting manifestos available as possible to turn consumers from skeptics into converts.
3. make it easy for consumers to spread the ideavirus by providing a multitude of a tell-a-friend tools as well as overt rewards for becoming a sneezer
Ten Questions Ideavirus Marketers Want Answered
1. Have we chosen a hive we’re capable of dominating?
2. How likely are the powerful sneezers to adopt our virus?
3. Do we know who the powerful sneezers are and how to contact them?
4. What can we do to our product to make it more virus worthy?
5. Are we rewarding promiscuous sneezers sufficiently to get them on our side?
6. Have we figured out what we want the sneezers to say? How are we teaching them to say it?
7. Even if our product isn’t purely viral by nature, is it possible to add more viral marketing elements to it (or to our marketing approach)?
8. Do we know how to get permission from people once they’ve been touched by the virus? Do we know what to say after we get permission?
9.How smooth is the transfer of the ideavirus?
10. Is our offering good enough to wow this hive?
11. Do we have the resources and time to dominate this hive before others rush in to fill the vacuum?
12. Have we built in multiple feedback loops so we can alter the virus as it moves and grows?
13. Have we identified the vector we want the virus to move in, and have we built the tools and plans to keep it moving in the vector we’d like?
5 techniques to build virality:
1. Go full viral. The more you use it, the more you market it (whether you want to or not). In essence, using the product is the same as marketing it
2. Pay off the promiscuous
3. make it smooth for the powerful
4. digitally augment word of mouth
5. altruism… reward the friends of the promiscuous
conversion is key. ie. number of people receiving an email pass the email on. over 50% is HUGE and a big win
make it so the virus spreads with the use of the product whether the users wants it or not.
The Ideavirus Formula
Multiply these five factors:
[reputation benefit to powerful sneezer of recommending virus]
[selfish benefit to promiscuous sneezer of recommending virus]
[smoothness of sharing the virus with a friend]
[power of the amplifier used to spread positive word of mouth]
[frequency of interactions among hive members]
Divided by the sum of these two factors:
[number of times you need to expose someone in this hive in order for the virus to catch]
[number of different sneezers who have to recommend a virus to a given individual for it to ignite]
And then multiply that by the product of these four factors:
[percentage of infected hive members likely to sneeze] [number of people the infected sneezer is likely to contact] [persistence of the virus (how long does a sneezer sneeze?)] [number of people infected /(divided by) number of people in the hive]
1. who it starts with
2. Who it resonates with
3. What’s easy
Prechasm people want something cool
Post chasm people want something that works
The challenge of the idea merchant is to turn the virus into an asset. And you turn the virus into an asset when you ask the user for permission to follow up directly
1. Invent a virus worthy idea
2. Make it smooth and persistent
3. Incent powerful sneezers
4. Get their permission to follow up
Step By Step, Ideavirus Tactics:
• Make it virus worthy.
If it’s not worth talking about, it won’t get talked about.
• Identify the hive.
You won’t get the full benefit of the ideavirus until you dominate your hive.
• Expose the idea.
Expose it to the right people, and do whatever you need to do to get those people deep into the experience of the idea as quickly as possible. Pay them if necessary, especially at the beginning. NEVER charge for exposure if you can help it.
• Figure out what you want the sneezers to say.
You’ve got to decide what you want the sneezers to say to the population. If you don’t decide, either they’ll decide for you and say something less than optimal, or they won’t even bother to spend the time.
• Give the sneezers the tools they need to spread the virus.
After you’ve got a potential sneezer, make it easy for him to spread the idea. Give him a way to send your idea to someone else with one click. Let me join your affiliate program in sixty seconds or less. Reward the people I spread the virus to, so I don’t feel guilty for spreading it.
• Once the consumer has volunteered his attention, get permission. The goal of the ideavirus marketer is to use the virus to get attention, then to build a more reliable, permanent chain of communication so that further enhancements and new viruses can be launched faster and more effectively, under your control this time.
• Amaze your audience so that they will reinforce the virus and keep it growing.
Where are the Cabbage Patch Kids? Why do some viruses burn out more quickly than others? The simplest reason is that marketers get greedy and forget that a short-term virus is not the end of the process, it’s the beginning. By nurturing the attention you receive, you can build a self reinforcing virus that lasts and lasts and benefits all involved.
• Admit that few viruses last forever. Embrace the lifecycle of the virus.
Cats was a terrific success on Broadway. But even great shows don’t last forever. By understanding that the needs of the virus change over time (and that the benefits received change as well) the marketer can match expenditures to the highly leveraged moments.