The S.T.E.P.P.S to Make Your Product Contagious

Recently I had the privilege of reading a book called "Contagious" by Jonah Berger.   Jonah Berger is a marketing professor at Wharton and is an expert on word of mouth.   If you have not read his book I recommend it.

One of the first examples he provides in his book is how a new steak house in Philadelphia used a $100 cheese steak to gain both word of mouth recognition and free press in both USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. 

Are you in a crowded market?  Think you can stand out?   Jonah Berger outlines his recipe to become contagious.   There are 6 S.T.E.P.P.S.  Jonah recommends being great at a few vs. being mediocre in all of them. 

S-Social Currency-we share things that make us look good

T-Triggers-top of mind, tip of tongue

E-Emotion-we share when we care

P-Public-build to show, build to grow

P-Practical-news you can use

S-Stories-information that travels on the guise of idle chatter

In his research he found that high arousal of positive emotion works best when trying to make your idea contagious.   Based on his research, negative emotion does not create energy/action.   Positive energy will make people more likely to share.   Research has shown that people are more likely to share immediately following physical activity.   In addition, he provides examples of how useful information is likely to be shared to specific people that would benefit from that information (your target market).

In his book, Jonah Berger refers to the work of Chip and Dan Heath in the book "Made to Stick".   Chip and Dan write about "Three Why's" as the way to find the emotional core of an idea.   By asking why three times they believe you will find the true emotion in an idea.   Emotion is a key part of the S.T.E.P.P.S. model.

Jonah Berger also refers to the work of Hahnemann and Tversky.  They received the Nobel prize in economics for their work on "prospect theory".   This theory states that judgements of consumers are not always rational like economics assumed, but are instead relative.   For instance, a 20% discount is more compelling on and item below $100, and $100 off is more attractive on an item that costs $1000 or more.

As examples of ideas that became contagious, Jonah Berger tells the story of why 80% of manicurists in California are Vietnamese.    He also points out that 65% of drycleaners in New York City are Korean and that in the 1900s, Jews produced 85% of men's clothes.

Have you followed S.T.E.P.P.S. to make your idea contagious?   Share your story below.