Heidi Cohen Interviews Jonah Berger
What’s your best piece of advice for readers looking to improve their marketing and why is it so important?
Be customer focused, not product focused.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of new technology, but the psychology is much more important. Understand why people do what they do and your business will flourish.
What was the inspiration for Contagious?
There’s lots of hype out there around social media, but much less actual science about what drives word of mouth. I spent the last 15 years doing research in the space and thought the science could help people get their ideas to catch on. (BTW: Here’s more detail with charts on how images go viral based Berger’s research.)
What is the key concept behind your book? How did you come up with it? If you have one or more visuals that encapsulate the idea, would you please share them and give us permission to use them?
Word of mouth isn’t random or luck, there’s a science behind why things go viral.
There are 6 key drivers of word of mouth. I’ve put them in an acronym called STEPPS
- Social Currency
- Practical Value
What do you want readers to take away from your book or be different as a result of reading it?
Understand consumer behavior and be able to craft more contagious content.
How do you describe yourself professionally? What is your elevator pitch?
I’m a Professor at the Wharton School and bestselling author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On. I help companies and individuals make their products, services, and ideas more successful.
What are 1-3 books that inspired your work/career? How did they influence you?
- Diffusions of Innovations is a classic. Helps explain why some new things get adopted and others fail.
- Made to Stick is a great book about how to make ideas memorable.
- Micromotives and Macrobehaviors is useful for people who love economics.
What is the biggest challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your life or career?
Being told no, that you can’t do something. It happens a lot but you have to learn how to deal with it and roll with the punches.
What’s something unusual or fun that most people don’t know about you?
You know when you take your kids to the mall to have their picture taken with the Easter bunny? I was the guy in that suit one year.
While I’ve consulted for dozens of Fortune 500 companies (including Google, Nike, Samsung, and General Mills), what makes me proudest are the gobs of emails I receive every week from entrepreneurs who’ve read Contagious and successfully applied the ideas.
There are some amazing success stories. Two examples are:
- One person used the ideas to increase their Facebook traffic by 400%.
- A music artist used the ideas to make $100,000 in a day selling their mixtape.
Name: Jonah Berger
Company: Social Dynamics Group
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