Three Examples of Unconventional Viral Marketing

Three very interesting things caught our eye this week in the area of building virality into the intersection of product design and marketing, since having alignment between design and marketing is critical to building virality into the product itself. This, by the way, is completely different than trying to put together some sort of “viral campaign” that gets grafted onto an otherwise unremarkable product. While those approaches can be successful, too, and I’m looking at you, crazy Finnish guys, the approach these three brands have taken is to build virality into the product itself, and not try to create a short-term fad.

Milka makes their chocolate sharableMilka, a chocolatier that’s been around since 1901 and is now part of the Mondelez family, has retooled their Alpine line of chocolate bars to be missing a piece. In every wrapper, there is a redemption code that you can use to either send the “missing piece” to a friend via postal mail, or have it sent to you. It’s a very savvy approach that required Milka to revamp their production line for an initial run of ten million bars to carve out the “missing piece.” (Note that they actually made all the other pieces a bit larger during this retooling, so the purchased candy bar still weighs the 100g it always has.) The thing about this approach that so struck me was that the creative team came up with an idea that was not just another campaign, per se, but instead re-imagined the product itself to have a shareable component. Very, very smart. (Hat tips to Andy Sernovitz and Adweek.)

Diamond Candles builds antici…pation into their product – Diamond Candles grew to over $1,000,000 in revenue their first year by also building something remarkable and sharable into their product design itself. (Every candle has a ring in it that is worth anywhere from $10 to $5000 that becomes exposed and accessible as the candle burns down.)

Diamond has cracked the code on a number of things. First off, they tied anticipation, excitement and fun into the product itself; their customers want to use the product more as a result of the product design. They did a few contests to seed the idea of customers creating an “unboxing” video when someone unearths the ring in their candle, and now that norm has been solidified into the product use itself, “I use the candle and share the experience.” It’s become an evergreen testimonial stream, where Diamond posts links to the “ring reveals” to their Facebook page and the viral loop snowballs online from there. Hat tip to Terry Lin and you can listen to the whole Diamond Candles story on this podcast.

Three Examples of Unconventional Viral Marketing image diamond candlesThree Examples of Unconventional Viral Marketing

Dropbox cracks the code on two-sided incentives – Dropbox is arguably the best company out there today that has managed to build viral sharing into their product design itself. Relying heavily on two-sided incentives, they have done the hard work of uncovering what levers can be pulled to encourage sharing, and tying those levers to activities that customers value. Everything from sharing a link to the site, to liking their Facebook page to following them on Twitter, to a host of other activities all drive additional storage for Dropbox users and additional exposure for Dropbox itself.

According to founder Drew Houston, Dropbox attributes over 60% of their growth to customer referrals. That’s impressive. Check out slides 30-34 in particular of the deck below to see how they did it.

I’m sure that there are other examples out there as well (if I recall correctly, I think Dropbox was originally inspired by PayPal’s five-dollar bonus for referrals). Are there other examples that you have come across recently?

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