Triggers, and a marketing tip for the weekend

Walmart, libraries and family are triggers for me.

Walmart, libraries and family are a few of my triggers. What triggers do you have?

Weeks ago now, I began blogging on a marketing book titled Contagious: Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger. I’m now following through with my promise to focus on Berger’s six reasons for things going viral–today’s topic is the second principle, ‘triggers.’

Berger wrote that more people talk about Honey Nut Cheerios than they do about Disneyland, and that intrigued me. He also wrote about the difference between immediate and ongoing  word of mouth. A few industries, like the movie industry, rely on immediate word of mouth, in which people talk about something right away, while other industries rely on longer-term conversations that keep  the product’s name circulating.

According to Berger’s research, interesting product receive more immediate word of mouth but don’t sustain high levels of buzz over time. He wrote:

Some things are chronically accessible. Sports fanatics or foodies will often have those subjects top of mind. They are constantly thinking of their favorite team’s latest stats, or about ways to combine ingredients in tasty dishes.

But stimuli in the surrounding environment can also determine which thoughts and ideas are top of mind…

Sights, smells, and sounds can trigger related thoughts and ideas, making them more top of mind.

If I understand right, a trigger has to be something that will come to mind when people are thinking of things they’re already interested in.

For writers, I think this is akin to the resonance a book has with its readers. If the writing is in a genre or focused on a topic they’re already interested in, it’ll be easy for them to think about it and pass it on.

Berger also wrote the following:

Why does it matter if particular thoughts or ideas are top of mind? Because accessible thoughts and ideas lead to action.

Which, in my mind, means book sales.

It’s an intriguing idea. I’m reminded of Where the Heart Is, a novel by Billie Letts. I don’t remember the first time I read the novel, but it has stayed with me. That’s due at least partially to its resonance with Wal-mart, libraries and family–all three hold a definite place in my life, and thus, they’re often in my mind.

Here’s the challenge: what if you’ve already written a book, and it doesn’t contain Wal-mart or other things ordinary people relate to? How do you bring it to mind, help it become something that can be ‘triggered’ and become contagious?

While you’re musing on that, here’s something else to think about.

I got an interesting comment from The Story Reading Ape blog on my post Marketing Sites for Writers, last week. I’ve approved it, but I think it could be helpful for more than just me…so here is the marketing tip for the weekend: check out The Story Reading Ape blog.

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