A Lesson In Viral Marketing – “The Big Apple”

In the late nineties the options available for marketing a website on the Internet were very limited. You had the main search giant at that time, Yahoo!, where as a website operator you had the ability to do a regular submit (which could take eight months to index your site), or a one time paid submission which generally had good results, often too good, leading one to believe that the system was less than honest. Your other marketing options fell more along the lines of what we would call “promotion”. Website owners would either do this themselves or hire outside people, akin to the club promoters of the nineteen eighties, to go online, visit chat rooms, gather email addresses and screen names, and leave posts in random chat rooms. These posts would either be blatant advertisements, or poorly disguised fake conversation, usually between the poster and himself (with a different screen name) talking up a product, service, or a website. This shady realm of web promotion could very well be the birth of viral marketing on the Internet.

Around this time I ran a very small consulting based out of Manhattan. Our methods of marketing were very limited. With the exception of paid submissions and link farming we were really left to our own devices to find unique Sommerseo solutions. Often times, because we primarily dealt with small “mom and pop” type stores who were more concerned with expanding foot traffic rather than building their global web businesses, we would rely on traditional print marketing, or looking for ways to geographically target our potential customer base on the Internet. One of our first experiences outside of this narrow marketing method was with a company called One Jewel.

They were a small company, about ten employees, based out of a building on Lafyette Street in Manhattan, right in the heart of China Town. There primary business was manufacturing and importing high quality luxury watches. Some of the watches they sold found their way into the hands of street vendors who would than modify these watches by adding counterfeited trademarked logos to them, such as Rolex and Cartier. A vast majority of their product though was sold to vendors in the wholesale district who in turn sold them to smaller jewelry and fashion design companies who would implement their own labels. Over the course of a few years we developed multiple websites for this company, in order to cover the large amount of different product lines that they manufactured; from the high end gold and platinum, diamond encrusted models made to compete with the high end Swiss manufacturers down to the lower quality models that were sold to private label retailers.

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