Viral Van Damme Volvo ad impressive, but what did it really cost? Can other B2B marketers with a limited budget do the same?
Volvo’s campaign featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme reached a viral spread of 6 million views in only two days. Two weeks later it got 56 million views. Impressive! What was the key to this viral success, and can I as a B2B marketer do the same? How expensive does a viral campaign need to be?
Following Volvo’s unprecedented success in spreading their video of Jean-Claude Van Damme performing a split between two Volvo trucks going in reverse, most B2B marketers start thinking, “Can I do the same”?
Did Volvo just get lucky or what made this viral campaign so successful?
Well, Swedish digital tactician Jesper Åström wrote an excellent piece describing the key elements essential to the campaign’s viral success. One thing we can state is: no, they did not only get lucky and you do need a substantial budget to achieve this 3-step rocket viral success.
A 3-step rocket
In the first step highlighted by Åström, the marketing manager needs to reach out with the content to key opinion leaders. This often requires bought views and embedding, which make this step quite costly. Most media networks need to see a budget of at least 5.000 Euros before even start making the calls to the relevant blog websites. The second step is getting PR by creating a story about the story, which does not mean telling the story that your are talking about in your content, but a story about how it is spreading, how it was made, how it is “packaged”.
The Volvo video had several good stories, which is maybe the most important key to their success:
- Jean-Claude is 53 years old and he is doing the stunts (public pitch)
- It is the first take shown on YouTube (media pitch)
- There are ordinary truck drivers behind the wheels (industry pitch)
- Only one safety line is edited away (for social media discussions)
To get interesting enough for the news websites you need around 100.000 views in Sweden, or around a million views in the US, which adds to the cost. Telling the story about your story also requires an interesting packaging, making it a pricey endeavor.
Third step is what happens afterwards, when people discuss how this could happen, like this article for example. This buzz leads to more views, a more widely spread interest, which in turn keeps the story alive…
What is the option for us with a more limited budget?
For most B2B marketing managers a viral campaign like this is too expensive. The cost for broad viral distribution doesn´t really pay off when the number of companies you can sell to are very limited. Luckily, thanks to new digital technology, B2B marketing managers can reach their target community, in a more efficient way.
Go viral or go targeted?
One way is to use Google Ads for Video ads, or buy seeding using Unruly/GoViral/BeOn. Using targeted IP-driven advertising makes it possible to target content like videos and articles etc. to your specific target group. You don´t have to go viral and get 56 million views to make sure your customers sees you. Instead you can make sure to target the companies that you know have an interest in seeing your video and your article on editorial sites. The fact that you know who the recipient is also allows you to customize the content for the recipient’s needs. Maybe you already have made different videos presenting your solution to different segments?
With IP targeted content ads you choose exactly which companies you want to see your content and at what time, to affect the right decisions. You can customize the content for your sales process, giving the right message at the right frequency with a 100 % accuracy.
So while Volvo’s very well executed monster marketing and PR-project suited their strategy and expense profile, a massive amount of views isn’t necessarily the right path for everyone, especially not B2B. We definitely think Jespers’ advice and Volvo´s success is something we all get inspired by. And who wouldn´t want 56 million views? But for the B2B marketing manager with a limited target group and budget, the goal is to find the most relevant communication channel that reaches that group, at a limited cost.