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What Marketers Can Learn From Ebola

Last updated Oct 16, 2014

Ebola like any other virus spreads by first finding a suitable host.  Once it has a suitable host it grows there, then spreads horizontally (that is from one person to another).  It takes advantage of connections to spread.  Then it mutates making killing the virus increasingly difficult.

There’s an immensely important lesson for marketers in this simple biological pattern.

  1. Think of your ideas as a virus (Seth Godin taught us to do this)(See I’m spreading his idea)
  2. Find suitable host for them.  Not every social media platform is a suitable host (best for spreading your message).  Instead pick one or two best suited for your message.  People are suitable host as well, and likewise every person is not suitable (stop pitching every person you meet).  Jesus picked 12 very suitable men to spread his idea virus…look what happened.
  3. Make it easy for others to spread your ideas horizontally to their networks, and tribes by putting your message in multiple formats (blog post, Tweets, podcast, videos, etc).  Share buttons on blogs make it easy to spread ideas.
  4. Ebola presents a serious problem because today more than ever before we’re truly connected.  More people travel than ever before which speeds up the spread of a virus that in times past may have been regionally contained.  Think of your ideas a planting seeds, and enable others to spread them for you.
  5. Think of ideas as conversation starters.  You want them to mutate, so it’s fine if they change a little along the way as one person tells another person.  When someone mutates your idea think of it as furthering it, instead of stealing it.  Once you put it out there, and it mutates it’s almost impossible to kill.  Gandhi ideas of passive resistance have spread all over the globe.
    1. Your ad is not an idea worth spreading, nor is your Tweet to checkout your home page.
    2. Here in Phila Dunkin Donuts gives out free coffee every time the Eagles win (they likely do the same in your town).  That’s a simple marketing idea, that’s easily horizontally spreadable, (and my wife, a raving Dunkin coffee fan, makes sure she spreads it reminding all her friends to get their free coffee).

Something To Make You Go Hmm! I bet millions of doughnuts get sold each Sunday as people come in to grab their free Dunkin coffee.

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