Viral marketing doesn’t work

charlotte1.jpg Ever seen that t-shirt? In big letters, it says “Viral marketing doesn’t work”. The rest of the shirt says “tell everyone you know”. You know, just like direct mail doesn’t work and Google AdWords doesn’t work.

Neither do electrical circuits, if you don’t know how to design them. Skills required to use these tools aren’t second nature, or instinct. They require study.

Want to learn about direct mail that works? Start by reading Dick Benson’s book (available at Boardroom books). Want to learn about AdWords? Start with Perry Marshall’s book and email series. Want to learn about viral marketing? Read Seth Godin’s books, among others.

Viral marketing sells pork. It sells cars. It sells marketing and business consulting work. It sells coffee. It sells a ton of things.

Viral marketing sells pork?

Yeah. Remember a spider named Charlotte? Her viral marketing message was… “Some Pig”.

E.B. White knew about viral marketing way back when. His character used it when she weaved those words into a spider web in the barn where a little pig named Wilbur lived.

Viral marketing does work, if you know how to use it. Seth didn’t invent it, he just fine tuned it and uses it very effectively. There’s no reason why you can’t do the same. Just takes a little effort, whether it’s direct mail, viral, AdWords or some other skill.

Update: Another example of viral “marketing”,
the recent Virginia snow day episode.