Value Vs. Viral : How to Retain Customers?

A lot of brands that use social media seem to be there with the express intent of making something go viral. With the widespread popularity of video platforms like Youtube, Vine, Instagram and even Facebook, it’s never been easier to get videos seen by millions of eyes, and a vast majority of these videos seem designed to “go viral”.

While this can be a very effective means of getting the word out about your product or service, relying on that as a means of building a customer base is unsustainable at best.
This is not to say that viral content isn’t a boon to any business practice. Last year, in what is arguably the most viral advertising video to ever hit the internet, the company behind the Squatty Potty footstool (designed to bring your knees up for better bowel movement and then slide away under your toilet for convenience when not in use) took the internet by storm with a three-minute long video featuring a princely narrator and a cartoonishly cute unicorn pooping out rainbow-coloured soft serve ice cream.

Now, while this ad was what put the company on the viral video map, they had already designed, built and marketed their product for a number of years, both through online distribution and with placement in stores like Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond.
This shows that they had discovered a problem (bad bathroom posture leading to health concerns like constipation and hemorrhoids), did their research (signed off on by scientists from Stanford), and designed a simple solution (a stool that gets your body in the right posture for pooping!)

On the strength of this they were able to garner investor support when they were featured on Shark Tank in 2014, and landed a highly placed investor who believed in their product.
They initially put out an ad that was full of scientific data, diagrams, and well-meaning efforts to educate the public and their customer base about a useful product, and grow their sales. The second unicorn ad, it turns out, was simply a way to boost their fourth quarter sales by working with the Harmon Bros. production team that was behind the similarly themed “Poo-Pourri” viral videos. This was a decision that paid off, clearly, with the company seeing a spike in sales following the video, but that was simply building on the business foundation already laid by the company – by the time the video came out they had already made $8 million in sales for the year.

The lesson here is that the real best practice for sustaining and growing a customer base is to build value over time among your existing customers by creating a solid, marketable product and providing excellent customer service.

And when you do create spectacular marketing content, these are the people who, through an existing relationship with your brand, are more likely to share your content and help it go viral - which becomes the delicious cherry on top a tall cone of soft serve rainbow ice cream! 

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