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  • Marie:          Hey it's Marie Forleo and you are watching MarieTV, the place to

  • be to create a business and life you love. I got a question for you. Have you ever wondered

  • why some pieces of content go viral and others not so much? If you thought it was about massive

  • creativity or just dumb luck? Think again because my guest today is going to show you

  • a scientific formula for making your ideas and your products spread like wildfire. Jonah

  • Berger is the NY Times Bestselling Author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On. He's received

  • awards for both scholarship and teaching, including being named Wharton's Iron Professor

  • in Recognition of Awesome Faculty Research. He received his Ph.D. from the Stanford graduate

  • school of business. Jonah's published dozens of articles and top tier academic journals

  • and popular counts of his work have appeared in the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal,

  • the Washington Post, Science, Harvard Business Review, Wired, Business Week and Fast Company.

  • Jonah, thank you so much for being on MarieTV.

  • Jonah:         Thank you so much for having me.

  • Marie:          I got to ask, before we get into all the good stuff of Contagious,

  • what does being the Iron Prof really mean? Do you have big guns?

  • Jonah:         Everyday. At the gym, morning 'til night. Iron Prof is basically

  • you give a 5 minute lecture, 15 slides, 20 seconds of slides; they auto advance, you

  • don't get to control it and at the end the students vote. It's like 600-700 students

  • and I squeaked by just two votes ahead of the other person, so I was the Iron Prof.

  • Very exciting title.

  • Marie:          I was thinking is he like the Iron Chef, but I like this. Very

  • good.

  • Jonah:         I'm good at cooking, but not that good.

  • Marie:          Alright, so now, let's get to the real deal. In Contagious, you talk

  • about six principles that help make our ideas spread like wildfire, and one of the most

  • interesting ones to me was social currency. What does that mean and how can we use it?

  • Jonah:         The idea of social currency is just like the car we drive or the clothes

  • we wear; what we say affects how other people see us. You want to say things that make us

  • look smart and in the know rather than not so smart and behind the times. For example,

  • a few months ago, you might have gotten an e-mail in your inbox from LinkedIn saying

  • "Hey - you are one of the top influencers on the site, one of the top 5% or 10% of profiles."

  • Lots of people got this email, they felt really good, they patted themselves on the back,

  • but they didn't just feel good; they shared it with others. They brag to other people

  • "look at me, I'm special on LinkedIn, I have this honor, look at how great I am." Notice

  • that in talking about themselves, they also talked about LinkedIn. LinkedIn got to come

  • along for the ride, by making them feel special, smart, and in the know; they shared it with

  • other people and LinkedIn got to be part of the conversation. The idea of social currency

  • is so you can make people feel like insiders; they have something that not everyone else

  • has, or give them something remarkable. Lots of online videos you see, the more remarkable

  • it is, the more likely to share it; people share it because it makes them look good.

  • Marie:          We have to think about in our businesses or for whatever idea we

  • want to spread how can we help our customers or prospects feel like insiders, and how can

  • we help them feel cool amongst their peers and amongst the world at large.

  • Jonah:         I think actually for a small business, it's pretty easy because

  • you start to know your customers really well. That's your advantage over a large business;

  • you see your customers. If you're a coffee shop, you know who comes in on Wednesdays

  • or who always orders a triple macchiato something or other, and so by making them feel special,

  • you can get them to talk. Make them say hi by name rather than just greeting them as

  • an anonymous customer. Have their drink ready to go. Know what they like and dislike. Making

  • them feel special like they're an insider like they have something not everyone else

  • has will make them want to talk.

  • Marie:          I have to share. I just came back from a trip from Italy and

  • I was thinking about the last hotel I stayed at. They knew our names and actually it was

  • this tiny little town called Pienza and we made a reservation for a place outside of

  • the hotel for dinner and one of the women that worked there was so concerned that I

  • wouldn't get to the right place, she just wanted to make sure that she actually ran

  • to the restaurant to make sure that we arrived okay, and then the people I was having dinner

  • with, we all talked about it, and again, I'm talking about it right here; it's this little

  • town house called La Bandita, but I felt so taken care of and so like a VIP that I wanted

  • to tell everyone of all the hotels I stayed at in Italy, it was like they made me feel

  • the most special.

  • Jonah:         Yeah, or even giving people something for free, same thing. If

  • you feel like "I'm different from everybody else," you want to tell others it makes you

  • feel good about yourself, but the brand gets to come along as part of that conversation.

  • Marie:          Love it. Love it. Let's move on to another principle that you

  • teach, which is called triggers; top of mind, tip of tongue, which could be a tongue twister

  • in it of itself. What are we talking about when we talk about triggers?

  • Jonah:         The idea of triggers is simple, but it's often one we don't really

  • get. I think we sort of understand social currency, "make people feel good, they'll

  • talk about us." Triggers is a little more nuance and a great way to explain it; remember

  • the video that was popular a couple years ago, Rebecca Black had this song 'Friday'?

  • Marie:         Oh my God - 'Friday' was all over the place.

  • Jonah:         It was one of the most viral videos of 2011. 300 million people viewed

  • that video; why? People hate that song. No one likes it. They say it's terrible. It's

  • about a 16-year-old girl. Why would anyone share this? But why did it do so well? If

  • you look at the data, if you look at the number of people searching from Rebecca Black over

  • time, it's actually quite neat. You see a spike and then it goes down, and then you

  • see another spike and then it goes down, and then you see another spike and then it goes

  • down. If you look closer the spikes aren't random; they're every seven days. If you look

  • even closer, you'll notice that they're every Friday. The song is equally bad every day

  • of the week; it's bad on Monday, bad on Tuesday, and bad on Wednesday, but Friday's a ready

  • reminder because that is the same name as the song what psychologists would call a trigger

  • to make people think about it and talk about it. Again, if something in the environment

  • reminds us of something, we're much more likely to share it. If I said peanut butter and,

  • for example, you might say-

  • Marie:          Peanut butter jelly. Someone made a peanut butter jelly video for

  • us so they made a song.

  • Jonah:         Yeah, but it made you think of jelly and then it made you think

  • of the song, but peanut butter's like a little advertisement almost for jelly. Even though

  • I never said the word "jelly," the fact that I said peanut butter made you think about

  • jelly, and the fact that I said those two things together made you think about the song.

  • That's what a trigger is; if you see something in the environment, maybe you see a friend

  • of yours and it reminds you of a story you meant to tell them or you smell something

  • and it reminds you of your grandma's fresh baked cookies; these are triggers that make

  • us think about things but also make us talk and share.

  • Marie:          It's interesting. When I was reading about triggers in Contagious,

  • and even listening to you now, I think that we've built in, even to MarieTV, our own trigger

  • because outside of interviews, what we often do is called up Q&A Tuesday. Every single

  • Tuesday is when we publish our new MarieTV episode and so people have now, and they tweet

  • at us, and they Facebook us and they say "oh my God, Tuesdays are the day that we get to

  • see MarieTV," so we've created our own little trigger with Tuesdays.

  • Jonah:         It's really important to think, what are you going to link yourself

  • to in the environment? You've done a great job of linking yourself to Tuesday. If I'm

  • a hair salon or I'm an accountant or I'm a coach, what can I link myself to so that every

  • time people see that thing, they think about me? It doesn't have to be the biggest thing

  • in the world. It doesn't have to be a day of the week. It could be something in their

  • environment. If I'm a fitness coach, what at the gym are they going to see to remind

  • them "I got to sign up for an appointment." If I'm a real estate agent or I'm a dog walking,

  • what's the thing they're going to see that goes "I have to call this person and set up

  • an appointment." Making sure you're linked to something in your environment, even if

  • we like something, we don't always buy it if we're not thinking about it. It's really

  • important to make sure we're connected or triggered by something in that environment.

  • Another great example of triggers you might've seen recently, GEICO has these fantastic ads

  • out whereas you're "happier than." There's one happier than Dracula at a blood drive,

  • or you're happier than a Pillsbury doughboy on his way to a baking convention, but there's

  • also one recent with a camel. There's a camel walking around the office going "guess what

  • day it is guys, hey guess what day it is" and everyone's trying to ignore him, and then

  • finally someone goes "it's hump day," and he goes "Yay, it's hump day"; happier than

  • a camel on hump day. It's very funny - you should go watch it, it's great. If you look

  • at the search traffic for GEICO, you see a big spike now every Wednesday. They were getting

  • beaten by Progressive before, but now every Wednesday they're doing better than Progressive

  • because people are thinking about them every Wednesday because they say hump day reminds

  • them of the camel ad, reminds them of GEICO, and reminds them to go check it out. That's

  • triggers at work, thinking about what's in the environment, what's in your context, you

  • can link yourself to it and make sure consumers are thinking about you.

  • Marie:          Awesome. Next thing I want to talk about Jonah, one of the questions

  • I get asked so much, it's such a hot topic, is around pricing. Should we discount? Shouldn't

  • we discount? So, Professof Berger, can you school us on the rule of 100?

  • Jonah:         The rule of 100 is very simple but it's really important. It's in

  • the chapter on practical value and I think many people often have the same issue you

  • mention with discounts; do I want to discount my thing, I don't want to seem like I'm cheap.

  • JcPenney were doing discounts all the time and then no one shopped there anymore because

  • they got rid of their discounts but they were saying we have too many discounts. The key

  • with discounts is making people feel like they're getting something special. If this

  • is an opportunity, I have to take. It's not going to be around forever. I really want

  • this discount. The rule of 100 is very simple. Let's say a $20 t-shirt, simple example; you

  • can have 25% off, which would be $15 for the t-shirt, or you could have $5 off. Everyone

  • agrees that the same amount of money, but does it seem the same from the consumer? It

  • doesn't. Even though those are identical in terms of monetary value, to the consumer they

  • seem different. To the consumer, 25% off seems like a better deal, whereas actually if it's

  • over $100, it flips. If we're selling like a $2,000 laptop let's say, or coaching session,

  • if it's 25% off, that would be $500 off; same amount of money but there the $500 seems bigger

  • than the 25%. The rule of 100 says if I'm going to discount, let me use a certain type

  • of discount, either money off or percentage off to make that same discount seem bigger

  • based on whether it's larger or smaller than $100. You can do the same thing with any numerical

  • information. Maybe you're talking about how many customers you've gained this year, how

  • much revenue has grown, how you've changed something; you want to represent it in a way

  • that seems larger rather than smaller. Using that rule of 100 will help you frame the discount

  • to make it seem like a better deal.

  • Marie:          I think that's one of the most genius things because positioning

  • really is everything and how you frame just what you're talking about, and also, I think

  • you just made some really great points in the book, which you'll have to just go out

  • and get to read, but there is another story you told, we don't have to get into details

  • here, but just about how pricing things and putting things next to each other. If there's

  • something really expensive and then all of a sudden, something right next to it doesn't

  • look quite as bad; like "I'm getting a great deal." However, if it was existing on its

  • own, not next to the more expensive thing, people are like "no way it's too much."

  • Jonah:         There's a great story about, I don't think I told it in the book,

  • but I think it's Williams-Sonoma with a bread maker, and so they had this bread maker and

  • it was a few hundred dollars and it wasn't selling very well, but then they introduced

  • this new bread maker that was twice as expensive, and nobody bought the really expensive bread

  • maker, but actually increased the sales of the cheaper bread maker. You would say "why

  • does introducing another option increase your sales?" If anything it should split people.

  • Less people should buy the cheaper one, but it changed the way people saw the cheaper

  • one. Suddenly it made the cheaper one seem like a really good, whereas before it wasn't.

  • That's the key with deals. No one knows how much something should cost. How much should

  • a haircut cost? I don't know, maybe $30, $40, $20, $80; I don't have a reference point,

  • and so by giving people a reference point, by using your set of options or other information

  • to help them figure out whether something's a good deal or not, you convey that information

  • and help them decide.

  • Marie:          Awesome. Alright, so moving on. I'm curious. Since you've written

  • this book, and there are tons of great stories in there, but have you heard reports from

  • either readers or companies that have consciously used your six principles to help their ideas

  • become more shareable, more spreadable and more viral?

  • Jonah:         Definitely. One thing I've done a lot since the book has come is

  • actually do workshops for companies. A couple weeks ago, I was over at Purina in St. Louis,

  • I did something for Vanguard, I did some work with Google, and all these companies are interested

  • "we've got these steps but how do we apply them, how do we put them into work, it's great

  • that there's science, it's great they spent 10 years studying this stuff, but I don't

  • really care about that, I want to use it." That's the key for your listeners also; the

  • science is good but how can I apply it. I spent a lot of time thinking about how to

  • apply the science, bake some of it into the book, but also have helped lots of companies

  • do this. I got an e-mail actually just late last week saying "thanks for this framework,

  • we used it and we increased the number of people talking about us on Facebook by 400%."

  • A company called PhotoBucket, they were doing things before, they were doing posts, using

  • social media, but it just wasn't really working for them. Now they've engineered their posts

  • based on the framework. The E for emotion; they've dialed up the emotion they're figuring

  • the right emotions rather than the wrong ones. Discounts; they're framing those discounts,

  • using the rule of 100. Social currency; they make some people feel special. With Vanguard,

  • they call their customers "clients"; "you're my client," that seems sort of special but

  • if I called you a member, suddenly it seems much more special than just being a client.

  • A client is you're over there and I'm over here; if I'm a member, we're part of the same

  • team, I feel much more special. Even using the language that they use to communicate

  • ideas can be really key. It's been amazing to see companies using these ideas and really

  • helping their products and ideas take off.

  • Marie:          I love that. The final thing I want to ask you today, because we

  • have so many aspiring authors and authors in our audience, you have this incredible

  • class which your book is based on and you've taken over a decade of research and put it

  • into a book, and I also have read that you use one of my favorite techniques; reverse

  • engineering that helped you take all of these ideas and figure out how to formulate it in

  • a book. Any lessons from the trenches, it's a NY Times Bestseller, anything that you'd

  • want to share with someone who's thinking about writing a book or writing their next

  • book?

  • Jonah:         I think it's really important to have a kernel, a short version

  • of a message that's easy to communicate. One of my favorite examples actually didn't make

  • it in the book, but it's a new one. There's a bar near my house that's a high end cocktail

  • bar and they have lots of no Red Bull, no vodka, but egg white this and chrysanthemum

  • flavor that, and all sorts of high end cocktails. There are dozens of similar bars, so how do

  • they cut through the clutter? How do they make sure they stick out? They did something

  • really clever. They have three types of ice and as soon as you hear that, you go "three

  • types of ice, I didn't even know there were types of ices, the ice in my freezer looks

  • very similar to the ice in your freezer, what are they?" You want to know more. What are

  • those three types of ice? It turns out one is this cube block of ice that's stirred from

  • the bottom up and it has no bubbles, another is these small chips that form together and

  • melt in a certain way, but they have different types of ice for different types of drinks

  • because depending on the drink you're drinking, you want different sorts of melting; faster

  • melting or slower melting. That's a great story. It's remarkable. You want to learn

  • more about it, but it does something else interesting. If you know there's a bar that

  • has