Squishy Cows As Viral Marketing

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Squishy Cows!
A few weeks ago the lovely “AC Riley”:http://www.acriley.com interviewed me for “an article for Canadian Business”:http://www.canadianbusiness.com/entrepreneur/sales_marketing/article.jsp?content=20061024_110636_5716 but I ended up on the cutting room floor.
AC was nice enough to “post my part of the article to her blog”:http://www.acriley.com/web-content/archives/archive_2006-m10.php#e76 and to let me reprint it here:
bq.. Over the summer I had the absolute pleasure of speaking to Ken Schafer, VP-marketing at “Tucows”:http://www.tucows.com/ , as well as Mitch Joel, president of Twist Image for an article on viral marketing, Are Clients Catching Your Message? Both Ken and Mitch were informative, highly knowledgeable and a lot of fun to interview!
Unfortunately, due to space restrictions, Ken Schafer’s contribution and the Tucows case study didn’t make it to the final version. So, I’d like to post some of the text that did not get printed:
One of the things that often hold back SMEs from adding a viral component to their marketing arsenal is finding the right hook. It needs to connect with the consumer in such a way that it gets people talking and, more importantly, forwarding the campaign to friends and colleagues. Ken Schafer, VP-marketing at Toronto-based Tucows Inc., looked to the popularity of a particular company giveaway — a foam squishy cow — for inspiration.
Well known as a provider of freeware and shareware downloads, Tucows was looking to promote its B2B offerings: wholesale Internet services and back office solutions. Schafer used the company’s technical blog, Tucows Farm which is read by software developers, programmers and resellers of Tucows’ services, to execute its viral campaign.
On July 10, 2006, there was an unannounced, one-day offer to give away the coveted squishy cows, with one provision: “the recipient photograph the cow in an interesting place and post the picture online”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/squishycow/.
The response was unexpected, with over 100 requests. Tucows ran out of the spongy bovines and is in the process of obtaining 5000 more for future campaigns. Schafer explained that campaign created more than the initial viral buzz – it also entices blog readers to keep checking back for other spontaneous campaigns. Ongoing benefits include word-of-mouth as more and more Tucows brand ambassadors pop up on desks and squishy cow photo shoots turn into water-cooler conversations. As the campaign continues, inbound links from the photos will continue to grow, driving traffic to the company.
Tucows’ example is a sign of the times. Based on a survey of U.S. executives Blackfriars Communications’ report, Marketing 2006: 2006’s Timid Start, predicts a 10 per cent drop in budgets allocated to traditional marketing with most of the shift going toward developing new media and alternative marketing – including viral.
p. It’s hard to over-estimate how much people love those little squishy cows. We’re taking tubs of them to “ISPCON”:http://www.ispcon.com/ next week to satisfy demand and hopefully drum up more pics of our little friends in exotic locales.

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