Planning A Viral Product Launch
The Fireball Shooter that set the internet ablaze and made millions.
My first month at the company and my boss says “We’ve got this new product coming out at Christmas and we need you to make it go viral.”
*gulp* “No pressure then.” I meekly responded.
I’d never made a product go viral before, but by executing the steps outlined below, I’m pleased (and relieved!) to say that it actually did go viral.
The result has been millions of dollars of sales on a product that continues to receive press, years after its original launch.
Here’s how it was done.
Step #1 – Planning where you want your coverage.
It’s important to understand that going viral should never be the goal. Your product needs to reach as many ‘potential buyers’ as possible, not just as many ‘people’ as possible.
However, increasingly companies are asking their marketing professionals to make something “go viral” – assuming that will result in more sales.
Like calories, not all press coverage is created equal
Without picking the right places for coverage, you won’t be reaching actual ‘buyers’ and those views will go completely to waste.
This is how you pick the right places
If your business is already established it may have a history of blog features for previous products. Google Analytics will help you find these past referrals and even show you how many unique visitors they brought through.
In my case, it also gave me e-commerce sales from each referrer, so it was easy to see what ROI each one would add, just in case the product didn’t go viral and I had to pay them for a sponsored post. It’s always good to have a Plan B.
My top three favourite referrers were:
I knew the Pyro Mini product launch would also fit nicely into the kind of items featured on those sites, so I kept them on a spreadsheet as my first target, come launch day.
Then I googled “sites like dude I want that” and google gave me a sensual little peck on the cheek and returned some stunning results. Thank you google.
I made a list of all of these too.
I kept filtering down using this method until I had about 50 ideal coverage spots for Pyro Mini as a product.
This was a targeted list of places I wanted to see it featured, knowing that those readers would be more likely to buy it.
Step 2 – Building Relationships and Offering an exclusive
“If you’re not first, you’re last.”
In the world of news, journalists live by this rule, so a true scoop on something good is never turned away.
I wanted to give BGR.com the scoop on my new product. They’d mentioned the client's company (Ellusionist) previously and in a subreddit on gadgets, links to their stories were prevalent.
They were a great fit.
I used LinkedIn and the companies own website to find a list of its writers and contributors.
Then, I emailed a personal email to each one. Offering the scoop on this product.
One responded and I organised time to Skype with him to share video and photo assets to help build his story before launch.
I recommend having these relationships with talented contributors to blogs and publications in your space.
It’s often not what you know, it’s who you know.
(Thanks again, Zach.)
Step 3 – Trading Up The Chain
Your goal is to:
- Get small blogs to talk about your product.
- Then get medium-size blogs to talk about it because they can see a number of other blogs are already covering your product launch.
- By seeing everyone else talking about it, hopefully, national news will start to cover it too, taking the buzz you’ve created and cementing it as ‘viral’.
Each piece of coverage is traded up the chain towards larger and larger outlets.
This idea isn’t mine, I read it in Ryan Holiday’s book “Trust Me I’m Lying”, but it worked beautifully with the previous steps to almost guarantee success.
Side note: After this product went viral I emailed a thank you note to Ryan and he was kind enough to get back to me. His method works and the book is a must read.
Once you’ve gained your first piece of coverage, you can work through the spreadsheet you’ve created to contact like-minded media outlets.
Then you can start to email much bigger outlets with all the coverage you’re receiving.
You’re just showing them what other media outlets are covering.
HINT: I did this from my personal hotmail account so it didn’t look too professional. This way, I didn’t have to pay for the coverage that the product was getting.
Here’s how I continued:
For all the places you contact, there will be others who cover your product naturally. This organic reach adds to ‘virality’.
Social proof adds to your product's ability to convert. Shares become sales if it looks like lots of people are buying it and loving it.
A snowball effect is created.
We were very fortunate that all the coverage inspired some famous Youtube channels to buy one and recommend the product.
Pyro Mini was featured on Unbox Therapy. ( 4.8million views )
Good Mythical MORE. ( 767,000 views )
Hundreds of other news outlets, blogs, and YouTube channels mentioned it.
Sadly it was also featured by Logan Paul in a dangerous way. This was not what the product was intended for, however, we did see a massive bump in sales for it because he’s a massive influencer.
Logan Paul (6.7million views)
Thankfully, our legal disclaimers and warnings strongly prohibit the use of Pyro Mini for such actions.
The result: Hundreds of thousands of unique visitors, tens of thousands of units sold and millions of dollars of revenue since launch.
Pyro Mini continues to be a top seller for Ellusionist and I hope you can use these methods to help with your viral product launches too.