The ripple effect, or butterfly effect, as it is also known, is the theory of one small motion creating a subsequent motion. The first ripple creates another motion, which creates another, and so on, with each motion getting larger and larger. When applying this theory to digital marketing, the outcome can be staggering!
For example: I recently heard about a young father filming his two boys sitting with one another. Suddenly, the smaller child bites his older brother’s finger. The father then uploaded his video, naming it “Charlie Bit Me” to the web, intent on sharing it with his family and friends. Over the next few weeks, the video gathered an exponential amount of views, likes, and shares. Encouraged, the dad began to strategize further, creating even more videos after the success of the first. Each video became a viral sensation, drawing a large audience, and generated thousands of dollars through monetization (allowing YouTube to place ads on the content).
In the instance of his first video, it was the video’s energy and popularity that kept it circulating over what has now become nine years. The strategy of creating more content, each digestible and appealing to a wide audience, made for more viewing (one ripple), lead to liking (one ripple), lead to sharing (you got it, another ripple), all of which lead to profit.
When it comes to marketing, the same is true; the need for a plan (whether large or small) can’t be emphasized enough. A solid plan consists of not only expectation of desired results, but also a clear and decisive way to get there.
Execution is one crucial element that is often missing from most marketing strategies. Profit may not be your only goal. Perhaps you want to gain awareness or buzz around your company or product, or you want to generate a certain amount of phone calls or page visits to your website.
How can you apply the ripple effect to your marketing?
Examine marketing pathways and leverage them. There are many tools you can use to have a successful marketing strategy. Group and categorize your efforts, with each facet having a specific purpose.
- Layer your marketing. Figure out what outlets (or layers) you want to use, whether it’s radio, TV, websites, signs, social media, direct mail, etc., and set a schedule or frequency for each. In doing so, you can gain “ripple momentum” through proactive thought.
- Value (and use!) your strategic plan. All too often a company will invest in a marketing campaign but allow later ideas or implementation to crowd and jumble the ripple process, muddying the originally targeted outcome. Stay the course, and watch the ripples go!
Recently, we worked with a client to increase their marketing efforts; seeking out networking events, designing business cards, shirts, flyers, writing blogs, and even consulting with the sales team on the cologne they wear. While this doesn’t sound like obvious lead-generating marketing, we know (and have seen) each of these actions create a motion, leading to sales. What may start out as a small ripple, like a pebble thrown into a pond, ultimately has a profound impact on keeping the energy and momentum for the client going.