We all see things go viral on the Web or certain products that suddenly take off. It begs the question: Why do some things get talked about more than others?
“And how by understanding that science can companies and organizations and individuals get their stuff to catch on?” said Jonah Berger, Associate Marketing Professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, during our phone interview.
Jonah, who will be a keynote speaker at Email Summit 2015, has studied how products are used and why behaviors catch on. His book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On, was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller on the topic.
Companies can get stuck in an “advertising” mindset, he said, and see that as the only way to communicate with consumers.
“While advertising is useful for some things, it’s not as effective as word-of-mouth for some other things. And so understanding how to both effectively use traditional advertising and word-of-mouth and blend those two approaches becomes really important,” he said.
Jonah provided four tips on how to best integrate the two and how to make your content go “viral.”
Tip #1. Keep the focus on customer
Marketers have a tendency to focus too much on the product or service, rather than the customer or user, Jonah pointed out.
It’s easy to speak in a language the customer can’t easily understand when you spend day after day up close to what you’re offering — “You know a lot about your product, your service, your idea,” he said.
Ask yourself a few questions to make sure that you’ve pictured the customer’s journey:
- Why are they using this?
- What’s in it for them?
- How can we be more successful by finding our messages in customer language?
The value of content done well, he said, is that “it’s not about you … the best content doesn’t yell your brand; it whispers it.”
While recently working on a project with 3M, Jonah said he helped them create content that focused on how the product could be used.
“So focus is more on the user, or the thing that happens, or the way it improves the world or people’s lives, rather than the product itself,” he said.