This is a behind-the scenes story that reveals how one B2B marketer used a lot of silliness to increase its Web traffic tenfold and generate thousands of sales leads.

Picture a modern restaurant full of Vikings. A customer asks the waitress for the daily specials. She responds with an endless list of dishes, all of which are made with Spam. The more the waitress mentions this salty canned-meat product, the more the Vikings break out with chants of "Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam...."

This, of course, is the classic Monty Python sketch from the 1970s and the origin of the term "spam" as applied to unwanted emails that simply won't go away.

Interestingly, one of the architects of the original Monty Python Spam skit has recently engaged in a new form of Web marketing that, unlike Spam, people actually seek out and savor. Monty Python member John Cleese is now appearing on the Internet in a wildly popular comedy video created to draw IT managers to the Web site of a company called Live Vault (www.LiveVault.com.)

Live Vault, a maker of disk-based data backup solutions, needed to make a splash in the market with a new product launch. Its independent marketing consultant, Jeff Weiner, had a solution. Make such a funny video starring John Cleese that viewers would tell their friends to go see it at the company's Web site. A small number of print ads and Web banners would help get the video launched, but after that it would, as they say, "go viral" and spread by word of mouth. In a moment of insanity, Live Vault agreed to do it.

And "go viral" it did.

The end results were what Mr. Cleese would have introduced by saying, "And now, for something completely different." Buzz in the industry. Dozens of blogs linking to Live Vault's site. Over 100,000 views of the video within six weeks. Web traffic that increased by a factor of ten. And thousands of sales leads generated.

How did this viral phenomenon go from wacky idea to revenue-generating success?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ted Page is cofounder and creative director of Captains of Industry (www.captainsofindustry.com), a marketing agency and video-production company based in Boston. Ted oversees the creative development of websites, logos, videos, and interactive Web marketing campaigns for a range of renewable energy and clean-tech clients. Ted is the author of The Willoughby Chronicles, a memoir.