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Dr. Ralph Wilson, one of the early pioneers of viral marketing – and Web marketing in general – showcases 6 principles of viral marketing. These are principles that he says should be a part of every business’s viral marketing campaign, only he says if you have most of them then you’re golden. I’d add another one to the list, but before I tell you what they are I’d like to review Dr. Wilson’s list. His 6 principles of viral marketing are:

  1. Give something away
  2. Effortless transfer to others
  3. Scales easily
  4. Exploits common human behaviors
  5. Utilizes existing communication networks
  6. Takes advantage of the resources of others

These are pretty useful principles. The first one is almost a no-brainer. The idea is to give something away that others can pass on. It must also be easy to pass on to others. In other words, people you give it to should be able to send it to their friends without much fanfare. The freebie must also be scalable, which is a word marketers use to convey growth from small scale to large scale with relative ease. Exploiting common human behaviors gets to the heart of all sales messages – tug on people’s motivators. By utilizing existing communication networks, because you don’t want to have to invent something that people will have to learn to use when they’ve already got the tools you need to distribute what you have and want them to have. And finally, use other people’s resources as much as possible because, after all, if it’s viral you can’t do it all yourself.

This about sums it up. But I’d add one more principle to the list. It’s already in Dr. Wilson’s 6 principles, but it isn’t stated outright – so I’ll just say it. Make it easy. Simple. Don’t complicate things. If you follow Dr. Wilson’s 6 principles of viral marketing then that should automatically happen. Your plan will be simple. As it should be.

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