Specialist site alliances
Specialist websites and services tend to be more flexible with their commercial approach and there may be greater opportunities for broader partnerships.
Working with vertical market portals that have built a strong community presence is likely to be essential if you are to establish your narrowcast channel.
A number of online ecommerce sites such as eBay, Amazon and Play.com offer commercial opportunities that can be leveraged in a number of ways.
Rather than traditional advertising you may prefer to run ‘referrer slots’ that promote goods (usually using videos) and then present the viewer with a buying opportunity. You will not run the commercial site, but will take a commission for each sale.
There may also be opportunities for cross-referral whereby the selling site features a video from your channel and pays a seller’s commission.
Teaming up with third parties to promote your service can make your marketing budget go further. In particular working with brands on sponsorship deals can be a good way of building an audience
CASE STUDY: SONY ERICSSON
SonyEricsson were launching a new phone featuring a Tony Hawke skateboarding game. Their media agency, Outrider, approached online extreme sports TV channel, High TV and negotiated a sponsorship packet where by High TV produced a half hour exclusive skateboarding programme with SonyEricsson branding that featured and played regularly on the channel; a viral email was then distributed linked to a mock phone player that showed the show and presented links to the main High TV player.
This was a win-win situation where SonyEricsson get content and an audience and then use their budget to extend the audience and attract viewers to High TV.
You can see the viral here.
Email & Newsletters
There is a fine line between email marketing and spam and you need to be very careful to keep to the right side of this line. In general, you need your audience to request information from you, rather than pushing out irrelevant information to reluctant recipients.
Of course, a cyclist may well be very keen to hear about a new channel featuring world class cycling coverage, but there are ways of targeting this audience that will not alienate them even before this information has been imparted.
Using the community itself to promote a service is, perhaps, the most effective way to do this.
Viral Marketing is something of an oxymoron – as soon as a viral email, video or web page appears to be a conscious attempt at marketing, it is far more likely NOT to become a viral success.
The key to a viral piece is to identify and target the mavens – those individuals who are influential and ‘followed’ within their communities. These should be approached individually and, ideally, should be involved in the service. One way to do this is to form and ‘advisory team’ who provide feedback and contribute to the channel as it evolves. If they are involved, they are more likely to promote. Another way is to incentivise these influential individuals with free subscriptions.
Including content that has shock, rarity or celebrity value is also a good way of promoting your channel.
You can use existing services such as Youtube and Metacafe to kick off campaigns and provide visibility for your campaign. However, this is easier said than done.