Thursday, January 25, 2007

Viral Marketing in B2B - It Works!

When comparing B2B marketing to B2C, many see B2B as having very generic campaigns that lack the excitement and creativity of B2C. For example, you rarely have celebrity endorsements or crazy contests that reach millions that you typically see with brands such as Nike or Coke.

B2B Marketing is Boring

B2B marketers tend to use the same marketing tactics over and over again such as direct mail, email, paid search, telemarketing, and live events to name just a few. It usually involves a landing page that contains a blurb about the offer and a form that you need to fill out. B2B marketers rely on their targeted audience and customers to spread the word by forwarding on an email invite to a webinar or telling a fellow colleague about a great new software package that they just starting using. This is all great and has proven to be effective but is there another way to bring the same excitement that B2C marketers use to B2B? Just because you are targeting a business, does it need to be all about newsletters and white papers?

It's Time to get Interactive. It's Time to get Viral

If you think long and hard enough about what motivates your target market you have to think that there is more then providing them with a perfect case study (unless that's what they've asked for). If you're trying to grow your lists and get your name out there, how can your audience get enthused about your company or your product? A few B2B companies are now trying to use more interactive viral campaigns designed for their target audience. The goal is to entertain while demonstrating their understanding of what their target audience goes through in their day to day business functions. Viral marketing campaigns are typically "games" that provide a brief distraction from a stressful day or may bring some humour into the office. Think about a funny email one of your friends have forwarded to you. It may have made you have a brief laugh and was something that you could share with those around you.

Get Your Viral Game on: Intel & Quantum

Intel has just launched a new game that they are calling the PEBCAK I.T. Translator. PEBACK is an inside "geek" term that stands for ("problem exists between keyboard and chair"). It's like FUBAR or other acronyms that are used to quickly summarize a situation. In this case, IT people refer to stupid questions that they may be asked as PEBCAK. The PEBCAK I.T. translator acts like a typical client or fellow employee approaching their I.T. person for help. It chooses random questions like "How do you move that little arrow around the screen?" and allows you to provide a response that you wish you could say. It then translates your response into something more appropriate. For example, to the above question I responded "Try using your finger to move the arrow" was translated to "Your genius lies elsewhere". It's these small concepts that typically do really well.

MarketingSherpa did a case study on a data storage company called Quantum. They created a trivia contest designed for IT managers and directors. The target audience was sent a direct mailer and were directed to an online IT trivia game to receive an IT related book, and be entered to win a full size video game. Once completed the trivia questions, you could challenge your buddy as well. The campaign worked as it not only tested the IT knowledge it sprinkled in other questions based on the interests of their target market including questions about Star Wars etc... The response rate was so so (2.45% response from the direct mailer) and a 10% viral effect which may have been inflated. However, the genius part of this campaign was that Quantum used the response to the questions as a way of qualifying their leads. That is brilliant! B2B marketers create surveys all of the time. Why not position your survey as a fun trivia game?

These are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. MarketingSherpa has kindly kept their top 12 viral campaigns from 2006 article open to public. I would definitely have a look and think about ways that you can make your site more interactive and think about ways in which you can engage and interact with your target market.

As a B2B marketer, you can keep this simple and more inline with the B2B world. For example. you can create video case studies of your customers, users, or trade show booth attendees that they can send to their friends. Hey - everyone wants to be on TV and the internet is way to make this happen. Even creating a piece of content that no one else has such as a study or a how to paper is something that typically works. I've created a "Feed Icon Library" that bloggers can go to and access cool blog feed icons for their own blogs. This is has been highly popular and drives a ton of web traffic from around the world. If you're in B2B, you need to think about how you can differentiate yourself from what your competition is doing and make the web experience one that people will not forget. Leverage the investment that you have already made in your other online marketing investments by creatively thinking of ways to drive people to your website and turning them into leads.

Chad H.

PS - as a blogger, you can also think of ways to bring people back to your blog. Yaro Starak over at Entrepreneur's Journey is brilliant at this. He has created tutorials, podcasts and other interactive elements that engage and motivate fellow bloggers.
PPS - Here are some additional resources on B2B viral marketing:
PPPS: If you've tried a viral campaign. it would be great to hear from you.
PPPPS: Why not do a comic strip like Dilbert based on your target audience?


Anonymous said...

It's PEBCAK, not PEBACK. Problem exists between CHAIR AND KEYBOARD.

Chad said...

Thanks! I probably wrote that late at (problem exists when lack of sleep). Your comment is much appreciated and I corrected this. Chad

Theoworlds said...

We ( started to play with the viral marketing idea back in time, without having any expectations in mind. We don't know much about marketing, but we are good with interactive technologies. So we came up with this game called The Office Space (remember the movie?). Our goal was to create a generic game engine that can be customized for different clients. Other design agencies would licence it to save development time. We developed a couple of games using this engine: Sports Bar, Treasure Hunter and even expanded it into an avatar chat... And, as a nice side-effect, the original game got pretty popular on web. It generated some traffic, emproved our search rank and helped promoting our brand...

Later we tried to get the same effect using interactive ecards. Our first trial wasn't so successful - we didn't put much time into it and it wasn't about the end user. So we just stepped back and decided to create something really fun. That's how we came up with Halloween Pumpkin Carver ecard. We, basically, spent two months on something that would grab users attention for about two minutes. But it totally paid off - the response it generated was just amazing.

Though the ecard wasn't targeting any specific audience, the message got (occasionally) delivered to the "right" people as well. As CNN news anchor Erica Hill said: "My grandmother sent this one to me"(the power of word-of-mouth). So we even got mentioned on CNN's Headline PRIME news without aiming for it. Later we followed the success with Gingerbread Cookie Decorator for Christmas and Valentine's Cake Decorator for Valentine's Day.

In order to check the overall results of those campaigns just use - you will see huge spikes each of these ecards generated.

I thought this example would fit your post. Keep up the good work with this blog!

Anonymous said...

Chad, I've got a video for you to see that you might be interested in. It's a viral, episode campaign we started to demonstrate to our B2B marketing clients how important it is to make sure their web sites are built to work hard and help make sales – not just passively deliver information.

Might you consider adding this to your blog under "B2B Viral Videos" – I agree that many times B2B marketers don't think "out of the box" and the results can be boring. Or at least too conservative. So we're trying to shake things up a bit.

You can view the video here:

Anonymous said...

hi guys,
can anyone suggest a good B2B viral marketing agency in London or the UK?
I have been looking for one, but most of them dont have experience in B2B.



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