Zombie Marketing: Go from Infection to Infestation

At CAN, we love trying to figure out why things work or don’t work.  This often leads to continuous experimentation.  I decided to unleash this post about Zombie Marketing because it is our latest marketing strategy, it is lethally effective, and, well, it’s about ZOMBIES!

For full-out zombie apocalypse, the key is for the infection to reach critical mass before the authorities are able to exterminate the Differently Animated.  For a Zombie outbreak to take over the world you don’t announce it to the masses. Instead, you infect a few key people and let the virus spread quietly.  In sales and marketing, as with Zombies, the key is to select the right people to contact, but the ‘right people’ aren’t who most would people usually think of.
When most people think about influential people, they tend to focus on the leaders of social groups, people at the center of their social group with many people listening to them.  Although they are the center of their social group, leaders are very difficult people to infect because they typically have a specific platform to protect, and their attention is fragmented because so many people want their attention.  Even if you manage to infect a leader without first reaching an overwhelming critical mass, infecting them won’t have as much impact as if you even had already established a small but concentrated infected user-base.  A prime example of using leaders as infectious agents is when you get a celebrity endorsement for a product with an established user-base, or a celebrity endorsement for a brand new product that no one has ever used.
Instead of infecting leaders, the key to a successful Zombie Marketing strategy is to infect the influencers in a group.  Influencers are people on they edge of many social groups, they don’t have a platform, and they move easily from one social group to the next infecting people with their ideas.  Influencers easily develop horizontal friendships, which are friendships between people with different interests, geographies, races, ages, education backgrounds, income levels, and lifestyles.  People with horizontal friendships are especially valuable because they are constantly being exposed to new ideas, perspectives, products, and people outside of what would be considered their typical sphere of influence. (Check out a related post on the value of horizontal friendships)
Since influencers are infinitely curious and open to new friendships and ideas, I find them quite enjoyable and relatively easy to infect.  However, they require a different method of infection compared to leaders and the masses.  To infect leaders you have to get recognized, with the masses you have to push your message, and with influencers you have to allow them to discover something novel.  People become influencers because they enjoy discovering new, novel and previously undiscovered ideas.

  • Focus Your Content on Solutions to Specific Needs: Influencers enjoy connecting people to solutions to their ideas.  In Zombie Marketing you want to make spreading the infection as easy as possible.  You want influencers to know that if they find someone with a specific need you have the solution.
  • Focus Your Analytics on the Infection: You want your focus to be on developing content that infects influencers, and your content will be guided by the feedback that you receive.  So don’t focus on visits or clicks.  Instead focus on time on site, conversion, comments and loyalty.
  • Provide Consistent Value: When people invest their money or time in something they expect to get consistent results.  If you want people to keep coming back to your site you want to provide them with consistent value.  This doesn’t mean that you have to post everyday, but that if you post once a week you continue to post once a week and preferably on the same day.
  • Promote your Work Sporadically during Off Times: While you need to continually develop great content, promoting your work sporadically and during off times can work in your favor, at least until you gain a significant user base.  Not posting all of your content encourages people to keep checking back in with your website to get the latest updates.  Post during off times, like Friday, Saturday and Sunday night when most people aren’t posting and yet their are still people hungry for new content.
  • Let the Virus Run It Course: In addition to being patient, you need to develop content that is viable over a long period of time.  This means that it should be memorable and solve a need that people will have today, tomorrow and a year+ from now.  That way once you infect someone with your ideas, they are useful and contagious for as long as possible.

Disclaimer: Zombie Marketing might not be for you if you operate in a perfectly competitive market place with many sellers, many buyers and an undifferentiated product.  However, if you operate in a monopolistic competitive market places then a Zombie Marketing strategy might be the right one for you.


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