Marketing has been around since the birth of commerce with merchants promoting their items to sell to their neighbors, villagers, and beyond. Once the global economy started and you needed to spread the word even farther. According to Wikipedia “the birth of marketing as a discipline is usually designated to the first decade of the twentieth century when “marketing courses” appeared in Universities. In 1902, the University of Michigan offered what many believe to be the very first course in Marketing.”
In 1996 Jeffrey Rayport, then a Harvard Business School professor, writes an article for Fast Company entitled “The Virus of Marketing,” in which he uses the term “viral marketing” and “v-marketing”.
Viral Marketing is defined as: A marketing strategy that focuses on spreading information and opinions about a product or service from person to person, especially by using unconventional means such as the Internet or email.
Most people will say that viral marketing can only exist after the advent of the computer since you need email and/or social media to spread your word. But, in my opinion, it has been around for over 2000 years. One might ask how could it be around before the birth of computers and social media but in its rudimentary form, viral marketing is the spreading of information to spread amongst a community. If this information convinces people to change their beliefs and sway their opinion then the marketing worked.
So if this is the case and you call spreading a message by word of mouth, Viral Marketing, then who was the First Great Viral Marketer? In my opinion, it would have to be Jesus of Nazareth. I know right now you are saying WHAT? But think about it. Before Jesus spread his word, people were not Christian. They were either part of another religion or unaffiliated with any religious group. So why shouldn’t we consider Jesus to be a great Salesperson and great Marketer? After all, Christianity is the largest faith at 2.2 Billion adherents or 31.5 percent of the world’s population. He was able to convince people to change faith or adopt his beliefs. Starting with one believer he grew to his 12 disciples and they followed his lead and used Viral Marketing to expand his message. Now over 2000 years after his death people are still spreading his word. If that isn’t the greatest Viral Marketing campaign ever than I don’t know what is. You might not agree with his message but he did get it across too many people.
What other great campaigns are out there? Can you name some of your favorite campaigns?
Thanks for reading.