1 This best-selling book examines key factors that make a message “contagious” — something that spreads easily. The biggest keys are to have a powerful message, that’s easy to share with contacts, that’s regularly triggered in your mind by things you encounter in your daily life.

2 Ten years ago, business gurus were buzzing about “connectors” — how critical it was to target the right, connected people in your community and hit them with your message so they could spread it. Experts are now realizing that the message is more important than the person carrying it. Few people are funny enough to make a bad joke good. But some jokes are so good anybody can tell them and people will laugh. That’s why message is important.

3 What kind of messages are worth spreading? One example from the book is Blendtec blenders, which are so powerful they can pulverize an iPhone in seconds (and hundreds of other different things). Of course, saying that your blender can pulverize something and showing  your blender decimating an iPhone in an incredible, slow-motion video are very different. Another example is the Philadelphia steakhouse that has become a local dining legend by offering a $100 ultra high-end version of a classic, low-end local delicacy — the Philly cheesesteak sandwich. 

4 Always try to wrap something memorable and worth sharing  into your product. Sometimes it’s the central feature. Often it’s something smaller — like the trivia on Snapple bottlecaps. (A typically intriguing example: “Cats have over 100 vocal chords.”)

5 Designing products that advertise themselves is a powerful strategy for small companies or organizations that don’t have a lot of resources. Think Livestrong’s yellow bracelets. Or Lulemon’s nearly indestructible bags that users carry around town.

6 When setting a sale price, remember the “Rule of $100.” For prices under $100, use a discount percentage (25% off!). For prices over $100, use a dollar figure ($250 off, regular price $1,000!).

7 Try to rig game mechanics into any contests or loyalty programs you have. If you’re going to have a VIP club, you might as well have diamond, platinum and gold levels to reward your most devoted fans.

8 Try to create a trigger that makes people think about your product. Kit Kat did that successfully a decade ago with its “Kit Kat and Coffee” campaign. The commercials made users think about the candy bar when drinking their daily coffee and built a relationship that didn’t previously exist. The result? A 33 percent sales increase in a year.

9 Competitors can even be a trigger. Take Marlboro’s famed cowboys. One anti-smoking ad used the tobacco company’s icons against them, picturing two cowboys on horseback, with one saying to the other: “Bob, I’ve got emphysema.”

 


This article originally appeared in the March-April 2017 edition of PETS+.