Everyone who's involved in marketing or advertising must master the art of reaching their target consumers in a fast, effective, easy and just as importantly, the cheapest way.

There are lots of ways and means on how to touch prospective clients and the television is proven to be the most effective yet expensive way. Nevertheless, with the fast boom of technology, the Internet is now also considered as one of the easiest and comfortable avenues to disseminate product awareness.

The word "free", perhaps, is the most compelling word in a marketer's vocabulary and this is basically what Viral Marketing is all about. From the term itself, which is coined from the word "Virus", viral marketing is a marketing technique which is similar to the spread of an epidemic that can reach others through word of mouth to increase brand consciousness.

Viral Marketing has been popular because it's been proven to be more efficient than the others. It makes advertising easier, and it can obtain a high and rapid response rate at a relative low-cost. Remember, if one person likes a particular service, that person will most certainly tell his friend, then his friend will pass it to her friend, therefore, word of mouth marketing starts.

However, one main weakness of this technique is that messages, which are usually sent through e-mails may look like spam mails, thus creating a bad impression on the brand and without knowing it, the said promotional messages will just be sent to the e-mail's trash bin, never to be seen and there for wasted.

One typical example of viral marketing is Hotmail.com, wherein the tactic goes like this. They give away free e-mail service, then every message they send has a simple tag at the bottom which says "Get your private, free email at http://www.hotmail.com". On the other hand, those who receives the e-mail will be able to see the note below the message and it will encourage them to get their own e-mail address with hotmail since it is just for free then the list goes on, the propelling of the message to reach a number of recipients hence increasing social networks.

There are several types of viral messages and methods of transmission. One type is the pass-along message which encourages users to pass the message to others. One example of this is chain letters which prompts readers at the end of the message to forward the e-mail to a number of users believing that they'll get good luck if forwarded and bad luck if done otherwise.

Another form would be the infamous anonymous matching on ecrush.com which requires a user to create a list of friends or acquaintances they secretly have a crush on. A match only happens if the object of their affection responds by logging in and does the same. Most of these services allow users to email anonymous messages notifying them that a concealed person fancies them. Hopeful romantics become hooked up on this marketing as they aim to find out if their crush also feels the same for them.

Also, the process of dissemination can occur in various ways. It may be through the world wide web where it converts web-based information into an e-mail. One classic example is the article from CNN.com wherein there's a link that encourages someone to send a particular article to a friend.

Another sample would be the word of email, which is considered to be the most common type. It's just the simple forwarding and exchanging of e-mails such as jokes and the like. But perhaps, the fastest mode of transmission would be through instant messaging such as Yahoo messenger, ICQ, Google and MSN since this is the most popular among young people and a link referred by a friend is more likely safe than by some unknown sender through e-mails.

Sometimes marketing companies even offer rewards or special offers for referring customers, encouraging the use of the aforementioned methods. Freebies and discounts can be music to the ear of everyone especially if acquiring them is just as easy as counting from one to three. This is probably one of the main reasons why marketers prefer this technique among others.

For a viral marketing technique to be successful, an effortless transfer of the marketing message to others is important and this works famously on the internet because on the spot transmission is a lot less demanding and less costly.

Also, from a marketing point of view, it is essential that the message to be transferred is simple to avoid degradation. In short, the principle of KISS must be followed. Keep it short and simple so that the marketing message would not trigger the recipient to aim their mouse pointer to the "report as spam" button.

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