Posted by Paul Hancox as Viral Marketing
In my last post I introduced you to BlogRush, the brand new blog syndication network by John Reese. However, in this post I want to share with you the deeper lessons behind the launch of BlogRush, which will become the next big thing in the blogosphere. Let me explain why I say that with virtual certainty.
In an email he just sent to members, John admitted he never anticipated just how fast word about the network would travel.
The first 60 hours since we launched the BlogRush public beta has been nothing short of EXPLOSIVE. We knew that we were developing an exciting tool that many bloggers could benefit from, but we had no idea how fast the ‘word’ would spread across the Web.
Personally, I wasn’t surprised at all. (I actually wrote a whole book about “viral marketing” back in 2000). Here’s my analysis of why I think the network is growing (and will grow) faster than just about anything we’ve seen on the Internet so far…
(Oh, and you might even be able to take what you learn here, and apply it to your own launches! All I ask for is 10% of the profits )
(1) Fill a “gap”.
Back in the late 1990’s, I built up an email newsletter to some 10,000 subscribers almost exclusively by exchanging ads with other newsletters of similar size. So, once I got into blogging, I wondered why nobody had come up with an automatic way of exchanging articles on a blog.
So when I heard about BlogRush, I almost instinctively knew it was filling a “gap” in the blogosphere that wasn’t really touched on by other blogging networks such as MyBlogLog or BlogCatalog.
So Lesson #1 for maximum viral effect is to find a “gap” in your market, a need that isn’t properly being fulfilled. Sure, they can be hard to find, but if you discover such a “gap”, you could be sitting on a goldmine.
John’s “gap” was simple - article exchanges on a blog. Maybe such exchanges already existed, but I certainly hadn’t heard of one.
(2) Create and build the “buzz” from Day 1.
A few months ago, John posted on his Income.com blog about an idea he had that caused him to lose sleep. Naturally, he wouldn’t share his idea (there’s plenty of thieves about!), but it provided a sense of mystery and suspense that drew people back to his blog.
Incidentally, this was just part of a larger “buzz” that John was already creating around his Income.com domain (which domain alone is worth millions of dollars). John had made it public that he would be launching a series of products and services around this domain, but left the details as a mystery. Still, as a regular reader of his blog, you couldn’t help but feel a certain sense of excitement and intrigue. Just what was John Reese planning?
(I should point out that John Reese was already well-known in internet marketing circles, and has been marketing on the Internet almost from the beginning. So many of his fellow marketers, like myself, were eagerly anticipating, or at the very least curious, to know what John had in mind for his next project.)
On July 25th, John dropped a hint about the first of many services he intended to launch as part of the Income.com network.
People keep asking when the main Income.com site is going to launch. Realistically, not for a couple more months probably. We just don’t want to rush it and have some major problems. Our focus right now is launching our first Income.com Network site — which is more or less a “little brother” of the main Income.com site. We hope to launch this site within two weeks or so. We had hoped it would be launched by now but we ran into some infrastructure issues that we hope to solve ASAP.
Then, on September 12th, a bit later than he’d hoped, in a blog post entitled “It” Finally Gets Revealed - BlogRush, John spilled the beans about his new service:
A few weeks ago, I explained how we’d be launching something that would become part of the Income.com Network that we’re building — and then Income.com would launch after that. Well, this mystery service is all set for a public beta launch this Friday, September 14th. We will probably launch around mid-day. I’ll post the exact time soon.
BlogRush is the name of the service we are finally releasing (after many months of development). It’s a free service that will help any blogger generate more traffic and readers for their blog.
Within hours, marketing and blogging forums were alive with chatter about this new service - “buzz” at its best.
John set the launch date for Friday 14th September, but various technical problems meant it was delayed slightly. Although it wasn’t deliberate, I really think the delays actually helped to fuel the buzz. It was so effective, I actually wanted to be the first to review the “live” service - so I stayed up until 3am hoping to catch the launch. (Yeah, yeah… I do normally have better things to do on a Friday night!)
When I woke up, BlogRush had launched, and had already been reviewed by Andy Beard (The guy lives in Europe, and was up at 6am. To me, the only thing for which I’ll get up at 6am is a fire. Even then, it would have to be a big fire.)
The real “buzz” had begun.
(3) Build in the “desire” to be an early adopter.
I wasn’t the only one to stay up late to catch the launch. Several other marketers had done so as well. (Or, in Andy Beard’s case he’d been a bit more sensible and had gone to bed earlier, so he could get up early.)
Why were we so keen to “get in” on the launch? Well, if we’re all honest, although I certainly believe this is a great concept, the real reason was that John’s service rewards early adopters. You get credit at a ratio of 1:1 for both your traffic, your referral’s traffic, and their referral’s traffic! After that, the ratio is less, but you still get some credit down to 10th generation of referrals. Here’s the exact breakdown:
Your Traffic = 1:1
1st Generation Of Referrals = 1:1
2nd Generation Of Referrals = 1:1
3rd - 6th Generation Of Referrals = 1:4
7th - 10th Generation Of Referrals = 1:8
In other words, the earlier you “get in”, the more likely you can build a decent size “downline”.
Some have expressed concern that this is some kind of a “pyramid” scheme. Well, it is more akin to “multi-level marketing” (MLM) which in most countries is tightly regulated, mainly because when the emphasis is placed on recruitment rather than product, people can get caught up trying to earn the most money recruiting others - which is often when an MLM business gets into trouble. By itself, MLM is a legitimate business model - the problems usually arise when recruitment becomes the driving force of the business.
In the case of BlogRush, I think John and his team have got the balance right. Sure, it’s based on an MLM model, which rewards early adopters - but late adopters still get the benefit of a 1:1 exchange, while being able to earn 1:1 from their referrers also. And it’s free, so no money is changing hands.
So Lesson #3 if you want your thing to go “viral”, is to build in both the mechanism and the desire for others to want to spread the word and adopt early.
(4) Use near perfect viral mediums.
John has another advantage - his service aims to benefit the blogosphere. Fortunately for him (or maybe “fortune” has nothing at all to do with it!), the blogosphere happens to be one of the most viral mediums of all time!
You can post about something today, and tomorrow it could be echoed across the collective blog mass we call the “blogosphere”.
That’s why, to me, it’s a near perfect viral medium. I say “near” perfect, because there is always a certain element of resistance - people don’t have to put the widget on their site, after all…
But when they do, they are automatically contributing to its growth!
As I’ve pointed out before on this blog, this is the major difference between “word of mouth” and “viral” marketing - although there are similarities, they are not the same thing. A virus spreads by itself, as long as it has a “host”. Word of mouth does not necessarily spread beyond its immediate audience.
Word of mouth marketing is me raving about BlogRush to you. We do that all the time, with movies we like, books we love, and so on. It only becomes “viral marketing” when you, in turn, adopt it and want to rave about it to your audience, who also do the same.
By building a service which benefits the blogosphere, it’s almost impossible for the blogosphere not to talk about it!
In his email to members, John said: “We had no idea how fast the ‘word’ would spread across the Web.”
Well, now you understand just precisely why word has spread so fast. When you fill a “gap”, create and build a “buzz” right from the start, build in the desire to become an “early adopter”, and use near perfect viral mediums such as the blogosphere, you have the blueprint for viral success.
Provide a great service, and you have virtual guaranteed success!
That is why, love it or hate it, BlogRush will be BIG. Very quickly.
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