How to Create a Viral T-Shirt Campaign

Viral Marketing Infographic Image source:

What makes something viral? It's pretty simple, really: a viral thing can spread itself without any outside assistance. You simply create the YouTube video, Internet meme, slogan, or what have you and then you send it out into the world. Mankind picks it up and spreads it everywhere by virtue of the fact that people want to spread it.   Creating a viral marketing campaign is the ultimate dream of business owners and marketing firms. Customers eagerly participate in advertising and do all of the hard work for you. The only tricky part is coming up with an idea that's clever enough to achieve viral status. Creating a viral marketing campaign is as much luck as it is anything else, but these tips could put you well on your way to marketing gold.  

Make it Sharable

The more sharable an idea is, the easier it is for it to go viral. That's why Internet memes and YouTube videos are the most common examples of viral content, and why mobile devices drive viral YouTube videos and websites. If people like a video, all they have to do is a make a few clicks and suddenly that idea has been shared with hundreds of other people. Slogans also have great viral potential (like the "Whaazzaaap" beer commercials a while back) because it doesn't take any real effort to say the slogan.  

Make it Sharable Part 2: Appeal to Laziness

If you want to make your custom clothing go viral, then you have to make sure that your clothing is easily accessible. You might even want to embed shopping instructions within the viral idea itself. You could create a shirt that directs people to your website where they can order new shirts.   Apple is the perfect example. Every Apple product comes with free Apple logo stickers, which encourages consumers to slap the logo onto their car windows and laptop cases. These stickers popped up everywhere because Apple made them extremely sharable. You may want to consider adding free articles of clothing to your products or services to make sharing as effortless as humanly possible.  

A New Spin on Human Resources

At the end of the day, normal people are the engine for your viral marketing campaign. You need to make sure that you empower people with the ability to spread your idea. Here's where reference bonuses come in. Many businesses give people incentives for referring their business to a friend and reward the referrer with discounts or other specials. You could always hand out custom clothing in pairs -- the original consumer keeps one and gives the other to one of his buddies.   Keep in mind that people tend to hang out with others who have the same interests, so a guy who supports your business probably has a few buddies who would also like your business.  

The Human Variable

The most important thing behind any successful marketing campaign is how interesting it is. Videos of laughing babies are adorable, Gangnam Style is ridiculous, the story behind Kony 2012 is infuriating, and Justin Beiber videos appeal to lovestruck teenagers. It's vital that you create something interesting to drive your campaign. This San Francisco pizzeria, for example, used a rare brand of self-deprecating humor to make national headlines.   You can't just slap your logo on an article of clothing and expect planet Earth to go nuts. You need a clever design, funny ideas, or an infectious slogan to get people excited about your custom clothing.
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