Bonus: Contagious — Why Wharton Marketing Professor, Jonah Berger, Catches On

Myles Robinson 2013 Leave a Comment

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When I initially received the email that our MSBA group would be traveling to the MLB Fan Cave I was pretty happy. Then I saw we would be hearing from the renowned Jonah Berger and I suddenly couldn’t control my excitement. Have you ever read a great article, watched an interesting YouTube video, or seen an inspirational tweet you just had to share?

I vividly remember sitting on my bed back home in Birmingham, AL watching this video as I was preparing to come up to NYC for the summer. I was so inspired by what I saw that I naturally shared it on my Facebook page. I also began to watch the video every day for a week. I would have it playing as I was doing mindless tasks like brushing my teeth, browsing the Internet during the day, etc. I could almost quote the first half of the video by the time I arrived for MSBA.

Little did I know that I was learning my first lesson in marketing 101: top of mind means tip of tongue. Meeting Jonah in person was quite an experience. The MLB Fan Cave, located in the heart of New York City’s Greenwich Village on 4th Street and Broadway, was very elaborately decorated and a haven for baseball fans. Instead of a traditional speech about his background, Jonah gave a presentation about his New York Times Best Seller: Contagious: Why Things Catch On. In the book he talks about how to get more word of mouth using these key six STEPPS: social currency, triggers, emotion, public, practical value, and stories.

A Wharton Marketing Professor by profession, Jonah gave all of us a lesson of why things catch on and go viral. I found it interesting that through Jonah’s extensive research more things go viral through word of mouth than traditional advertising.

For the marketing nerds like myself in the audience, Jonah challenged us to understand the psychology rather than the technology of what makes things “remarkable.” With the example of this Panda Cheese commercial we also learned the “currency of conversation” is stories. I finally realized why I like certain commercials more than others. Like the Panda Cheese example, great marketing messages, Jonah explained, have a moral hidden inside the story that takes the brand along for the ride.

Excited to go on @mlbfancave !
— jonah berger (@j1berger) June 18, 2013

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Jonah. The visit to the MLB Fan Cave was easily one of my top three experiences thus far this summer. I’m learning that sports business is just that…business. Knowing the nuances behind sports is a great, but when one begins to explore other avenues outside of the industry, it makes it fun to “connect the dots” back to sports later. As Jonah mentioned after his presentation, what makes sports so great is that its principles are applicable to many subjects.

I recommend the below articles by Jonah for all aspiring sports business professionals seeking to learn more about viral marketing.

Jonah Berger: Twitter Therapist (via Fast Company)
Viral’s Secret Formula (via the Huffington Post)
How to Make Your Personal Brand Sizzle (via LinkedIn)

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