Babe Ruth and Viral Marketing

Oh, admit it: you’ve thought about going viral with a crazy YouTube video or wacky publicity stunt. If it’s a “home run” and you get a zillion or so viewers, you (and your creative genius) will be known worldwide. You’ll command top dollar as prospects clamor for your services. Right?

Not so fast.

George Herman Ruth, Jr. (aka Babe Ruth) hit 714 home runs, but led the American League in strikeouts 1918, 1923, 1924, 1927 and 1928.

If you’re swinging for the fences, chances are you’re going to strike out too. Nothing wrong with that, but your rent still has to be paid.

How about swinging for singles instead?

  • You’ve got limited amounts of time, energy and money. It’s easier to hit singles than home runs.
  • Even if you swing your mightiest swing, hitting a home run is unlikely. Hitting singles is more likely.
  • Folks who see your “single” are more likely to be the ones you’re interested in than the unqualified masses that view hugely successful viral videos.

Ready to swing for a viral single? Step into the on-deck circle and warm-up with these “pitch” examples:

  • Design a totally unique and cool wallpaper, screen saver, or t-shirt. Retro, modern, whatever: let fly your inner artist! Or, add a message saying “Viral doesn’t work. Pass it on.” and let fly your inner snark!
  • Host a pet fashion show, or a coolest hat contest. We hosted a root beer tasting in 2002, and enthusiasts still link to our results page.
  • List 127 odd facts. Spice up your list with outrageous reasons to do business with you, including “Our clients get the secret recipe to Aunt Jen’s Sweet Southern Peach Cobbler,” or “It’ll finally get Oprah off the air.”
  • Riff off popular culture or celebrities. Here in Long Beach, the Kreisler Media Group says “Branding Never Looked So Good.”

Back to the Babe: I admit he had no use for hitting singles.

He’d swing big, with everything he had. Sure, he struck out a lot, but he led the league in home runs in 1918, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1927, and 1928.

In the Babe’s own words, “If I’d just tried for them dinky singles I could’ve batted around .600.”
Imagine how many more runs he might have scored.

Back to you: be different, be provocative, be funny, be emotional. Incorporate your brand in a subtle (or over-the-top) way. Do it on the web, do it in print, or make a video.

However you do it, channel the Bambino’s spirit: never let the fear of striking out get in your way.

Batter up!