Tell me if you’ve heard a version of this cliché. A pebble that falls into the ocean can create a ripple that crosses the globe. Nonsense? Don’t say that to United Airlines. Seven years ago, Dave Carroll found his $3,500 Taylor guitar heavily damaged when he picked it up in United’s baggage claim. Rather than make amends, United gave him the runaround, eventually denying him compensation on a technicality. In response, Carroll shared his saga in a catchy country tune with a kitschy video – “United Breaks Guitars” – and placed it on YouTube. Fanned by Facebook and late night comedy, the incident quickly captured the public’s imagination. The video went viral, generating nearly 1.6 million views on YouTube in just three days (and has 15.5 million views to date).
VIRAL MARKETING IS A SCIENCE AS MUCH AS AN ART
“United Breaks Guitars” is one example of viral marketing. Despite his misfortune, Carroll became a celebrity on a shoestring budget where word of mouth quickly catapulted him into the mainstream. And January’s best new MOOC, Wharton’s “Contagious: How Things Catch On,” takes this dynamic and applies it to messaging. Don’t assume that creating such viral events are freak accidents. There are strong psychological and marketing principles behind them, says Professor Jonah Berger who teaches the class (and authored a best-seller by the same name).
Rather than relying on group-tested, budget-busting campaigns, the course posits an alternative means to build brand: Word of mouth. Here, the goal is to find tools that can spread like a zombie contagion. In Berger’s research, he has found six fundamentals that can help marketers create a groundswell that sparks curiosity (i.e. selling $100 cheesesteaks), entertains or enlightens (growing beards in November for build awareness of men’s health), and motivates the audience to pass your effort along to their own social circles. And what’s the payoff? Simple: Your audience does your marking for you so you can coast on a wave of free publicity.
NEARLY 50 BUSINESS MOOCS WILL DEBUT IN JANUARY OF THE NEW YEAR
Viral marketing is just one of nearly 50 new business MOOCs coming out in January. Want to learn more about how analytics can help you better target your advertising strategy? Check out Darden’s marketing analytics course starting on January 4th. Just getting starting in analytics? John Hopkins University offers a self-paced, one week introductory data science course for beginners. If you’re struggling to find patterns and key data in your ledgers, Wharton is launching an Accounting Analytics course with ingenious ways to integrate financial metrics with those from operations and marketing to provide a clearer and more strategic view of your business.
And that’s not all. Stanford’s Daniel McFarland returns with “Organizational Analysis,” ranked among the best MOOCs all-time by the Financial Times. The University of Michigan’s Gautam Kaul, an online pioneer whose “Introduction to Finance” MOOC set the bar for those that followed, returns with three courses covering basic (time value and risk and return) and complex (alternative) methods for valuations. The University of Maryland is bringing back a popular trio of courses on entrepreneurship, while Kellogg offers new courses on how to scale operations and how to sharpen leadership skills through interpersonal leadership. Not to mention, you’ll also find new sections of old favorites in corporate finance, game theory, and operations.
To learn more about these courses – and register for them – click on the links below.
Marketing and Management
Finance and Operations