Blackhole marketing

These days most people working on the web understand the importance of word-of-mouth.

It’s cheap.

It’s effective, because people still believe things their friends and family tell them!

It’s also easy, provided you follow a few simple rules.

It’s not quick though, so you do need to be patient. To quote Rachel Hunter: “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen”. So, don’t burn all your cash in the first 6 months.

But, is “viral” growth enough?

Every week there are memes which spread online like a virus, only to disappear just as quickly, normally never to be seen or heard from again.

If you look at the sites which have been most successful with this sort of approach they have another critical ingredient: something which keeps people coming back.

To extend the virus analogy you need to infect people and make sure they stay infected.

Perhaps we need a different (more positive) way of describing the desired effect?

How about “Blackhole Marketing”? The product needs to draw you in and continue to hold your attention.

The feedback system used by sites like eBay and Trade Me is a good example. Once you’ve done a few trades and established that you are a trustworthy member it’s much easier for you to continue to buy and sell via Trade Me than it is to switch to a different site.

Josh from First Round Capital talked about a similar idea recently in relation to social networking sites: “Catch And Release” Business Models

Apart from eBay and Facebook, what are some other examples of sites that have the blackhole effect?

3 thoughts on “Blackhole marketing”

  1. I would say most of the top successful sites would get about 80% word of mouth marketing (rough guess), mainly because the sites would have an easy to remember name and a great site with lots of user content. Most people enjoy using sites and tell their friends.

    It’s interesting to see a site such as Ferrit use such aggressive marketing. Now every in New Zealand knows about Ferrit – because it’s been on TV ads that many times, but still Ferrits ratings are very low. So it just shows you aggressive marketing is not always the answer… word of mouth is.

  2. :-). Ending a post with a question prompting the reader to leave his/her opinion and then making them come back to check what the writer had to say about their opinion that is :-)


    Design stuff…upload it, have t-shirts and other more made and sent to you, give it to you friends…then have the site offer you a shop to on-sell that same stuff to other people… before you know it you’re committed (I should imagine…I’m not committed yet – but it has the potential)

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