Real(ly) beautiful: A 2013 campaign by Dove featured a police sketch artist listening to how women portray themselves and how another person describes them. The two images are then compared side-by-side, with the women’s “self-portraits” being far more critical and negative than the others. The ad has attracted more than 64 million views on YouTube. (1)

The fact is, very few people know what goes into making a viral marketing campaign successful until it starts to spread. There are, however, some brands, who have understood what makes the audience tick. In fact, there are some consistent elements in such campaigns, which brands can follow. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and have a look at the top three examples of viral marketing campaigns over the past years. There is a lot you can potentially learn from them as they exactly know how to resonate with the target audiences.
Viral marketing includes any strategy that encourages the individual to expand the marketing message to others, creating the potential for its exponential growth in terms of availability. Like viruses, such marketing strategies use an advantage of the fast multiplication to deliver the message to thousands or millions of people.
Exploits common motivations and behaviors. Clever viral marketing plans take advantage of common human motivations. What proliferated “Netscape Now” buttons in the early days of the web? The desire to be cool. Greed drives people. So does the hunger to be popular, loved, and understood. The resulting urge to communicate produces millions of websites and billions of email messages. Design a marketing strategy that builds on common motivations and behaviors for its transmission, and you have a winner.
A new energy drink company, for example, could create an Internet video featuring a person who consumes the energy drink before performing a seemingly impossible bicycle jump. If the video is made to look real, it may encourage people who see it to share it with others. After the video receives enough views, the company could reveal its true purpose, convincing its viewers to seek out more information about the drink without ever using a traditional advertisement.
Anthony, nice setup! To your question about the rental mortgages, you haven’t said what interest rate you are paying. As a start, if you are paying more than the risk free rate (Treasury bills) which you probably are, then a true apples to apples comparison would be yes, pay off the mortgage. But, if you are comfortable taking more risk, you have other options to invest in which you *hope* will yield you more over the coming years. You also didn’t say whether the rentals generate net income and if so, how much? What is the implied rate of return on the equity you have invested in them? If you pay the mortgages off, you’ll have even more equity tied up, will the extra net income make that worthwhile? Maybe you should use the money to buy more rentals instead, if purchase opportunities still exist in your town. … this is less of an answer than a framework to analyze the decision, hope it is helpful.
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Peer-to-peer lending ($1,440 a year): I've lost interest in P2P lending since returns started coming down. You would think that returns would start going up with a rise in interest rates, but I'm not really seeing this yet. Prosper missed its window for an initial public offering in 2015-16, and LendingClub is just chugging along. I hate it when people default on their debt obligations, which is why I haven't invested large sums of money in P2P. That said, I'm still earning a respectable 7% a year in P2P, which is much better than the stock market is doing so far in 2018!
The reason to make use or virality, the ease in spreading and sharing, is however a double-edged sword. We cannot forget that in this type of campaign, a large part of the control falls into the hands of the users, and we risk the message being misinterpreted or parodied. On the other hand, a successful viral campaign can work miracles for your brand’s results.
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