A slightly edited excerpt from the Ctrl+Alt+De...
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The browser theme for Ctrl+Alt+Del went into soft launch this week, but turned into big launch because of the CAD community. As a marketer, I love to see this in action. The connected community illustrates how all the new marketing methods and old methods work together in a cohesive way.

Soft launch typically means Brand Thunder rolls the interactive theme into distribution points where downloads can start to occur in a production environment. This will then be followed by the push on our partner sites and their promotional support.

During the soft launch, we’ll see a steady ramp up of downloads and users. The push on the partner site provides an added lift and we see momentum build as the audience grows. In this case, the avid fan base found the unannounced browser theme. News hit Tim Buckley who made a single tweet and the rush was on. A nice success for a great web comic.

That’s the rapid sharing that can occur in a tight community. It’s important for the key figure, in this case the web comic’s creator, to take the lead in getting the word out. His early and excited comment on Twitter fed the fire to the news that was already starting to buzz.

The continuation of the story is the banner ads that are now running on the site and pointing to the browser theme on cad-comic.com. Community anticipation and awareness is resulting in click-thrus and conversions that will make most marketers envious. Banner ads, which have seen their value plummet over time, still produce especially in an environment where they are used in conjunction with products and services that are part of the community dialogue.

So, the tweets are part of the new marketing methods; the banners I’d consider old marketing methods. They work well because of a well formed community which results from a steady dose of relationship building. Why would web comics be strong in this arena? Because they take the necessary steps to build that community. They share regularly with their community. CAD does this with their regular strip and their more frequent sillies. The authors are known to the community and active in their community. They are real relationships because the comic creators are on the road making time for personal connection. The solid relationships and active community make the mass market promotions more effective because the entire community cares. And caring is the critical component in a powerful community.

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