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Newsletter #806: The “How to Create an Ad Worth Spreading” Issue

Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Advertising and word of mouth aren’t rivals. When an ad is worth sharing, you get an amazing viral phenomenon that delivers a message like nothing else in the world. But it only happens every few years, when something really special comes along: Old Spice’s man on a horse, Where’s the Beef, and Budweiser’s Wazzup.

When you’re trying to create an ad that gets people talking, remember these fundamentals:

1> Make something worth repeating
2> It’s not about you
3> It’s about the sharer’s emotions
4> Make the sharer look good
5> Respect the sharer’s friendships
6> Make it easy to share
7> Never pay
8> Check it out: Show the world you can make an ad worth spreading

1> Make something worth repeating

Ask yourself: “Would anybody tell a friend?” — and be honest about the answer. Ads that get shared answer this question by giving us a thrilling, hilarious, inspirational, or educational topic that we can’t resist telling our friends about. If it’s not worth talking about — if it doesn’t have real conversational value — nothing you do will make it spread.

2> It’s not about you

It’s about the sharer. Nobody cares about your mission, your message, your tagline, or your business. People aren’t here to sell for you — and if you make them feel like salespeople, they shut up instantly. So when you’re planning your sharable campaign, start asking “Why would people want to share this?” instead of “What do we want them to share?”.

3> It’s about the sharer’s emotions

People are going to share your message because it makes them feel good. “Good” means smart, important, special, funny, helpful, connected, or inspired. An ad that is well-made and relevant may create emotions about the brand, but that’s different than creating emotions about the sharer. Give them a feeling related to the act of sharing — something like, “I feel smart because I know this thing you don’t,” or “I feel good because I helped you,” or “I feel good because I made you happy.”

4> Make the sharer look good

Give the sharer status. Everyone wants to be the first one to share a special idea (and no one wants to be the millionth person to say, “Have you tried the iPhone?”). They need something unique, undiscovered, or unknown to pass along. This desire to be in the know means you’ve got an opportunity to give the ads to an insider first. Try having a pre-release party, creating a VIP list, and letting them have the fun of finding it first.

5> Respect the sharer’s friendships

This means your message can’t be product focused. The value has to be in content that will make me look good when I show it to my friends, not the sales goal — because I’m not going to use my friends to move your product. The test: Would I watch this content if there was nothing for sale?

6> Make it easy to share

If I have to work really hard to share it, I’m not going to bother. It has to be fun, not work. Put your ads on YouTube and Facebook. Turn on all the viral and social sharing tools. Or stick it in an email. People know how to share stuff using these tools (and if you can’t get it shared on these, no other tech will make it happen). Any other tech crud just confuses things and slows it down.

7> Never pay

Paying for word of mouth is an act of desperation — and it’s usually unethical. The moment you pay for word of mouth, it’s not word of mouth anymore; it’s advertising. If people won’t share your message for free, then you’ve failed to create an ad worth sharing. Go back to step 1: Ask, “Would anybody tell a friend about this?”

8> Check it out: Show the world you can make an ad worth spreading

TED recently announced their Ads Worth Spreading Challenge — an “open invitation to the global advertising community to reinvent, inspire and engage audiences with a new definition of what video advertising can mean in the digital age.” Winning campaigns will receive roughly 7M in free advertising impressions, and it’s a great opportunity for the ad community to show what advertising can mean in the digital age.

Check it out: TED

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  1. IDG Knowledge Hub : Blogs : The “How to Create an Ad Worth Spreading” Issue - October 29, 2010

    […] Read more var o = SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "The “How to Create an Ad Worth Spreading” Issue", url: "http://www.idgknowledgehub.com/blogs/?p=6273" }, { popup: false, button: false }); o.attachButton($("#st6273").get(0)); Tags: ads, advertising, advertising news, marketing news, viral marketing Trackback URL   Permalink […]

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