A lot has been written about viral marketing and selling. This is where people, rather than paid time or space (advertisements), spread an infectious message. Prior to the Internet, this was done by word of mouth; now e-mail is used as well. Within our own time we all remember the avalanche of downloads Netscape received when it was first launched in 1995. Viral marketing suggests that by following a set of easy steps you can replicate these rare examples of feeding frenzy.
In the real world, Harry Potter-like conditions come together to hit a marketing sweet spot once in the proverbial blue moon. The launch of the IBM PC in 1981 and Stac Corporation's disk compression software just over a decade later were both runaway successes. Yet despite what many now assume, Microsoft Windows hammered away for eight years before it really took off.
Don't kid yourself or be kidded. Core elements of viral selling techniques make some sense for startup operations as they help spread the word and the cost is low, but don't think by following this path you will be deluged by wealth. Do build up mailing list databases. Do encourage customers to recommend the product to friends and colleagues. Do try and invent clever ways to spread the word (without resorting to Spam). Unfortunately, there is no magic lamp. Even so, there's a great deal most firms can do to polish up their act.
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