We sometimes forget how powerful the emotional connection to brands can be.
A great example is a company with a product designed to keep people safe, which is something everyone can relate in its most simple form.
On the surface, Guardly is a location-based mobile application. It allows users to alert, connect, and then collaborate with family, friends and authorities with one tap. In case of an emergency, users and first responders can communicate through voice, SMS, e-mail, and web conferencing. But the emotional connection, and the ultimate selling point, has nothing to do with the technology or the innovation, but the benefit to a potential loved one.
Add the viral loop. Viral loop companies such as Guardly spread their message in a number of unique ways. The first is organic and occurs when a Guardly user, without much prompting, shares the app with friends and family. Guardly even helps by pre-writing a suggested message for each delivery channel.
Viral loops have been around since the early days of Tupperware and its infamous home parties that my mother loved to attend. Perhaps the earliest example of viral loops in the tech space was during the 1996 launch of Windows Live Hotmail. The company’s webmail service had explosive growth on the back of one simple message at the bottom of every e-mail sent: “P.S. I love you get your free e-mail at Hotmail.”
Hotmail’s approach is often described as an invitation or referral loop. Guardly uses a similar tact by encouraging users to create networks of trusted friends and family that are contacted during an emergency. In addition to receiving an e-mail confirming their willingness to be an emergency contact, Guardly invites you to become a user of the service and so the viral loop grows.
Like most great apps, Guardly is initially available for iPhone but it will soon be coming to BlackBerry, Android and Windows smart phones. As companies like this one expand across multiple platforms, the power of viral marketing explodes. The test will be their ability to keep their messages simple and relevant to their many audiences.
At the end of the day, as small-business owners, we can never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing. Keep the message simple and highly emotional. I have always made a strong differentiation between branding and reputation. Branding is what you say about yourself, and reputation is what others say about you.
The most powerful message to prospects will always come from your customer base. In the social media and mobile world we live in, viral marketing should move from a tactic to an important strategy for your business.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Mia Pearson is president of the Canadian region for Fleishman-Hillard Canada and its sister company, High Road Communications. She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing award-winning communications agencies. Her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle. She works in partnership with her clients to build brands, mitigate risk and shape communications strategies.