During the early months of the global pandemic when we realised physical businesses were being forced to close we immediately started showing people how to trigger viral marketing using a resource list.
This is because businesses faced two big challenges:
- They’d have their marketing budget squeezed. Survival is on their mind, not spending more money on marketing.
- They may have never been online so the transition would be expensive because there was very little time.
Both can be summed up by – we’ve got no money and very little time to make things happen.
And although our technique worked a treat for physical businesses who took action on what we’re sharing, the viral marketing tactic is just as relevant (if not more so) for online businesses.
So for the purpose of this post let me share with you:
- What you’ll be creating to develop virality
- How to create it (cheaply)
- How to best distribute what you’ve created (cheaply)
So that this stays actionable I’ll keep each answer short and precise. However, if you want the full picture watch/listen to this bbo.show episode(s).
What you’ll be creating to trigger virality
When I talk about viral marketing, I don’t mean the superficial kind where you’re getting a million views on your video and becoming internet famous for a couple of hours.
Instead, I’ll be talking about giving your marketing a jump start. Just how when a car batteries flat we’ll hook it up to another battery source to bring it back to life.
There are many ways to do trigger viral marketing, but for the purpose of today’s actionable post, we’ll focus on creating a Resource List.
A Resource List is a free list of valuable items which will help solve your audience’s problem.
If you’re unsure how to find out what problem your audience has then here’s a good place to start.
However, if we’re assuming you’ve already been running your business for a while then you’ll know your audience’s problems like the back of your hand. If you don’t, does what you offer even solve their problem in the first place?
(A worthwhile note at this point is to understand if you need viral marketing for your businesses survival then it may be a good time to re-address your businesses core value).
Anyway, the purpose then of your Resource List is to provide solutions in the form of, well ‘resources’.
Here’s an example. Your Yoga studio is closed and you know customers will now be stuck at home with no understanding of what to do next with their Yoga practice.
This is where you step in. You’ll produce a useful (valuable) list to help your customers.
We’ll look at what you put in this list in the next section. Before that we’ll answer a burning question you’ll have in the back of your mind.
Ok, but how does any of this benefit my business?
Good question and valid. You’re already in survival mode so efficiently using your resource is critical.
To help answer the question think about – why do people share things they’re not paid to share?
The reason I’ve included ‘paid to’ in that sentence is, everyday people are sharing ‘content’ with their own personal networks which they have little incentive to share.
Why on earth would they do this?
The psychological reasons aside – they believe that this content will be useful to the person(s) they are sharing it with. That if their network uses what they’ve shared their lives will be better off.
Not, worse off.
This understanding now helps us understand how creating a Resource List will benefit your business. Here’s the sequence of logic:
- You’ll create a resource list of value
- This is your list that will be shared (it has your name on it)
- People will share this list with others because they feel it will help them
- Your name has been shared virally across a network of people without you having to spend any money on advertising
- When people see your name on the top of that list they now see you as an expert who provides value
This sequence of logic shows that your brand, positioning and marketing budget all benefit.
How to create it (cheaply)
Now you know what you’ll be creating and why it’s important let’s look at how to create it.
There are two considerations:
- What to put on your list
- What format should you list be
I’ll explore both with you all whilst keeping in mind that we want to do this as cheaply as possible. We’re in survival mode after all.
What to put on your list Resource List
This is going to sound strange so brace yourself. You’ll be putting a list of resources together which will also include your direct and indirect competitors. The reason for this is you want to provide as much value by creating a long comprehensive list.
For example, here’s what our early list looked like. Which is still in circulation. Bear in mind we teach people how to build an online business so sending them off to 300+ other places to make money on the surface doesn’t make sense.
The advance step to list creation is to understand the scope of your list. For example, do you want to keep it local or regional? The answer is dependant on who your audience is but its worth a thought at this stage.
OK, back to list creating.
I’ve shared our list to help you see how simple it is to do with a bit of work. With this in mind, here are some examples of resources you may want to add to your list:
- YouTube accounts
- Review Sites
- Budget products
- High-end products
- Online Services
- Local Classes
- Best Books
- Other businesses
- And More
Hopefully, these prompts have you whirring with ideas.
To solidify that creativity, here is a few additional points to consider when putting together your list:
- Try to include links to your recommendations wherever possible.
- Don’t just steal someone else’s list. Your added value is in the fact you’ve curated the list for people.
- With this in mind, add your personal thoughts to your recommendations.
- You can absolutely include your own businesses resources on the list (Just don’t give yourself 9 out of the 10 slots available).
So now you’re beginning to build your list let’s look at what your list should look like (format).
What format should you list be to encourage virality
When thinking about format it’s easy to get carried away. What you want to avoid is forcing someone to print the list for it to be useable. Instead, we want to make sharing the list as frictionless as possible.
When I say frictionless I mean, reducing the number of steps it takes for someone to share your content.
Being able to easily share something will be the defining factor in successfully triggering viral marketing for your resource list.
With this parameter set, the solution becomes easy.
You’ll simply want to create your list in a format that people are already familiar with and that any device (mobile and desktop) has the functionality to share, built-in.
The most common ones to use are:
- A sheet – typically a shareable sheet such as Google Sheets. Here’s our one again as an example.
- or PDF – a document that can be opened on any device
Of which both are shared via a link.
The link is the universally accepted way to share something through a digital device.
Tip: If your sharing a Google Sheet ensure you set the sheet to ‘View Only’ otherwise there’s a likelihood someone will swap your name out for theirs. It’s a cold world out there.
Another tip: You can download your sheet as a PDF with a click of a button.
How to best distribute your Resource List
Now you’ve got your link directly to your sheet or PDF the next obvious move is to get it distributed.
What you may have noticed from our link is that it’s rough and ready. Please don’t make this a long drawn out process that takes weeks and weeks to launch. Remember, your list is worthless whilst not being shared.
Before you worry about representing your brand in such a rough and ready way. It by no means has to be as rough and ready as ours is and it doesn’t have to remain that way forever. In fact, we enhanced our list and turned it into a webpage and an eBook.
We like pretty things too.
This leads us to actually distributing your list. Remember the aim is to get people to share your list as easily as possible without it costing you a dime.
The best place for this is to introduce your list to a Whatsapp group of like-minded people and ask them to share your link if they’ve found it useful.
Here’s another tip: If you’re sharing a Google Sheet then you may want to say:
Hey, I know your well versed in (Yoga), if you have any recommendations which you think people will find useful please fire them across and I’ll add them to the list and credit the recommendation with your name.
See what we did there. We’ve moved from encouraging sharing to contribution. If someone becomes a contributor they’ll happily share your link.
I’ve mentioned Whastapp above because again, it’s widely accepted. However, you may hang out in other places that make sharing links easy. For example – Facebook, Telegram, Discord, Slack, a Forum. There’s also no harm in leveraging all your networks.
Summary: Viral Marketing using a Resource List
We started this post with the aim of jumpstarting your marketing online by triggering viral marketing. To trigger viral marketing I’ve suggested you put together a useful (valuable) resource list that can be easily shared by people.
The benefit to you is your business becomes the host of the party. Your name is shared along with your useful list. So by default, an association begins to form. So and so is a trustworthy useful company to go to.
This helps towards solving a core problem many businesses face whether it’s due to enforced pandemic rules or general bumps along the road – we’ve got no money and very little time to make things happen.
The final take away I want to leave you with is, you don’t have to wait until your marketing needs a jump start. A resource list is applicable for both an offline and online business and should make up part of your marketing efforts.
There’s also an added benefit that once the work is done once, you can leave the rest to network effects.