Monday, March 26, 2007

How to start a Viral Marketing campaign

© 2007 By Steve Glines

Creative Director, Industrial Myth and Magic

Viral marketing is the latest magic marketing bullet that promises to transform a sow’s ear into a silk purse, a dud into a winner. It’s the dream of every marketer to create a marketing environment that is self-perpetuating and inexpensive, a viral marketing campaign. There are companies that will go out and hire hordes of teenage girls to shill some new product in the hope that it will take off through simple word of mouth. “Oh Buffy, look at my new toy, squeal, squeal.” Campaigns like this rarely work for teenage centric products and not at all for industrial or commercial goods.

Viral marketing does work! Here’s how to do it:

  1. A good story: You need a compelling story. Without a good story there is nothing to repeat.
  2. A web site: You need an attractive, easy to load and navigate web site that’s been optimized for search engines. People use the web the way we once used the yellow pages. If it doesn’t show up on the web it might as well not exist. Right now Google is the only search engine that counts.
  3. Drive them to your web site: You need to drive people to your web site; you need to give them a reason to go there.
    1. Articles: Magazines and newspapers (both on and offline) pay writers very little so the quality of independent articles (even in major newspapers) is very low. The majority of quality articles (specially in trade journals) are “planted” by writers hired to make a point. Make sure you’re one of them and make sure that your web site’s URL is mentioned so that that Google’s web crawling robots find the reference.
    2. Press releases: Targeted articles are expensive and time consuming. An easier way (and more effective from a web crawler’s perspective) is the press release. A press release serves the same purpose as a ghost written story and can be broadcast to many outlets. Remember what we said about newspapers and magazines, they exist to sell advertising not pay writers yet it’s the writing that attracts the readers that advertisers crave. When the media need content to carry advertising (no one is going to willingly go to a page with nothing but ads on it) they turn to the pool of press releases. If yours is written well there is a good chance it will be reproduced as written.
  4. Advertise: Finally, to reinforce the message and the story it does pay to advertise. Advertising is most effective when it’s used as a way of reinforcing an existing message, when the reader (or viewer) is expected to already know the story.

Once you have a web site the most effective thing to do is send out lots of press releases. The chances are that multiple “news services” will pick up your press release and that Google will scan your press release multiple times within a day or two. Each time it scans a press release it will register your web site. A good portion of Google’s page rank system is based on how many times your site is referenced by other unrelated sites. A well-written press release might well show up in hundreds of sources, that’s hundreds of Google references to your web site.

Anatomy of a Press Release

Is it news? If you do a Google search on the phrase “anatomy of a press release” you‘ll be told over and over “make sure it’s really newsworthy.” Good, that discourages your competition from sending out press releases. Pay no attention to that. You’d be surprised what can be made newsworthy. The annual arrival of Spring is not news but the emergence of the first Crocus of the season is and could be used to your advantage. Indeed the emergence of the first Crocus could be the occasion of several press releases. For example, you announce that you are going to have some event contingent upon the emergence of the first crocus. Then you announce a contest for spotting the first crocus, then you announce (with pictures) the first crocus, then you announce the results of the event contingent the emergence of the first crocus. There is no such thing as a slow news day in the mind of a good publicist.

So you obviously need “news” in a press release or there is no reason for anyone to carry your press release but the “news” portion of your press release is really irrelevant except to the harried editor who needs filler to wrap paying ads around. What’s important is the viral payload.

Crafting the payload

If news is the vehicle for getting your story into the media then the payload is what you really want repeated. Since you are in control of the story, this payload should reflect the story as you wish it to be told and retold. Before writing the payload, before writing press releases clarify what your goals are. Is the goal to sell a product or service, or the company or even an executive within the company? The story, the payload should have the following elements:

  1. The name, the buzzword, the hook, the logo that can be used to trigger a memory later on through advertising, word of mouth or planted stories.
  2. A story that separates you from your competition. It doesn’t have to be much but it does have to be there. This is what you want people to remember and the simpler the better.
  3. A way to get in touch with you and (most importantly) a pointer to your web site. This is what Google will see and use to point back to your web site. This is what you want Googles web crawler to see.

The story you convey in your payload should reflect the end point of your marketing campaign. If you’re a little one man (or woman) shop but plan to become Gigantic Humongous Corporation (GHC) then write your payload from the perspective of the Chairman of the Board of GHC. Using the hook of “news” you want to repeat the payload as often as you can. Repeat it over and over again and eventually it will become “fact.” Everyone will know the story of Gigantic Humongous Corporation because they have seen it over and over again. That’s how you create a viral marketing campaign, that’s how you create an industrial myth and that’s magic.

Industrial Myth & Magic is a cooperative amalgam of poets, playwrights, novelists, freelance journalists and a frustrated assortment of fine and commercial artists who make it a point of thinking outside the box. At Industrial Myth & Magic it’s our mission to tell an intriguing story that will resonate with your customers and draw them to you, your company and your products. It’s not good enough to build a better mousetrap you need a more compelling story. You need a story that will be told and retold. It’s not just advertising, it’s not just marketing, it’s not just corporate design … it’s everything. Its an industrial myth and that’s magic. 145 Foster Street, Littleton MA, 617-549-7274,

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Letting Go Poems - a review

Letting Go Poems
© 2006 by Robert Collet Tricaro

ISBN 0-89002-385-9 ($16.95)

Northwoods Press

Reviewed by Steve Glines

Most of the poems in this book are not thematically connected to letting go, at least not that I could tell, but there were just enough hints of the catharsis of “letting go” that forced me to read this volume from that point of view. Letting go includes morning past loves as well as past loved ones. The title and the first few poems got me thinking about the nature of immortality.

Our collective conscience knows everyone alive today and we remember many of what could be loosely called the last generation. We no longer have a collective memory that includes what it was like to be at the battle of Gettysburg, to pick a spot at random. Out collective conscious let go of those memories with the passing of the last Civil War veteran. We do have descriptions of events, many poetic, of the people and places of that era. The catharsis of letting go involves the emotional draining of the swamp of past relationships. For a writer with the talent of Robert Collet Tricaro, letting go creates the immortalitzation of places, people and events. That is what I take to be the meaning and purpose of this little volume.

The book opens with a commentary on life:


Faro seems bigger than the others,
harness and reins bejeweled with ruby
and sapphire glass, mane dusted
with gold. His eyes are
the wildest of all.

Children stand in his stirrups flailing
the air, shouting to a crown struck
by Faro’s glitter, as this magic carpet
whirls to the tune of the Wurlitzer.

Faro travels at great speed going
nowhere. Perhaps the wildness
in his eyes is really terror, having
learned that no rider can pull him out
from the centripetal rut he is in, as
he is rushed toward
an open distance he’ll never reach.

To immortalize someone gives them life beyond the grave. Plato gave immortal life to an otherwise miscreant character named Socrates. So to Tricaro gives life to an otherwise unnamed Irish cleaning lady:

The Irish Cleaning lady

Eyes gray as industry.
She’d boarded a ship in Cork
a city on her beloved isle,

but where living was hard,
to seek a better life.
Now she wears the starched

pink uniform that her school
kitchen job requires, which
passes for maid’s garb

when she cleans houses
late into the night. This lady
who speaks the brogue

of broad a’s
has work to do,
and a clean house it will be.

Poor in the sense that cars, rings
and fashions are of no
interest to her. Rich

in that cards, rings and fashons
are of no interest to her.
Resourceful in that she can

sew a silk purse from a sow’s ear,
but there’s be nothing in it
a friend, beggar, or thief could want.

Weak tea with a half slice
of marmalade toast for breakfast, thin
Mulligan stew with soda bread

for supper, perhaps
a pear, suit her well.
Her husband has but a small pension,

so she cleans houses.
With no child
of her own, she nevertheless

puts her deceased sister’s children
into their callings – white
turned-around collar for the boy,

nurse’s pin for the girl.
For decades, crouched
under the lash of moral obligation,

could her life have been more
spare, less giving had she

not left her emerald star
in its sky of sea?

We have all known them the little old ladies with a sad story to tell but a story largely kept to themselves so as not to trouble the grandchildren. We secretly wish for divine intervention, a lightning bolt of luck that transforms that losing lottery scratch ticket we all know to be in her purse into a winner capable of transforming her life into “Queen for a day,” a week, a month, just long enough to make her forget her past and smile the broad grin of someone inhaling life for the first time with the appetite of a hungry child. Alas life rarely works out that way and the poet is left with immortalizing a life that would otherwise be forgotten, a life that, without the poet, would cease with its passing.

Mrs. Dory’s Teacups

When her husband was alive a porch was called veranda, Later,
the New York Times became her seat on the stoop
of a four-story, run down walk-up.

Lines in her heavily rouged face, if placed end to end
could mark distance greater then the dimensions of her world –
the stoop and one room just inside the building’s front door.
The closest thing she came to activity was watching
UPS deliveries and girls playing hopscotch near the curb.

Her neighbor Todd ran errands for her. She’s offer him
coca in one of twelve teacups she and Mr. Dory brought
from their native England. Matching plates were sold
to pay for her husband’s cremation,
so she used saucers to serve her home-made scones.
Todd would run his fingers along the cup’s
fourteen-carat rose petals and smile.

She’s sip tea, her little finger extended, speak with clipped
eloquence about children she couldn’t have, her favorite nephew,
slightly older than Todd, who roomed in Greenwich Village
with a friend. She’d ask Todd why he blinked his eyes
so often.
Why at almost eighteen, he’d never dated.

When Mrs. Dory died some months later, her building super
gave Todd a box and a note. Ten teacups were exchanged for
scattering her ashes over Sleepy Hollow.

Two cups were for Todd. The note
included her nephew’s number.

And so it goes. This is a beautiful book of poetry. I recommend it to all.