I about to admit something to all of you that I have just recently admitted to myself; I am a book collector. No. Not the cool kind of collector that has first editions and signed copies. I am a book collector because I adore buying books, but then fail to read them. Please, tell me I am not alone on this one!
Anyway, why do you care about my bad habits? Because I have committed myself to reading every unread book I own this summer and I shall write about the books for those of you who just want a summary of some of the hottest content marketing books on the market.
To kick this thing off let’s talk about The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. The Tipping Point was a number one national bestseller and is about how little things can make a big difference. For the sake of learning, we will forgive Gladwell for publicly dissing Twitter.
Three rules of an epidemic
To argue his case that a “precisely targeted push” can create a new trend or a viral campaign, Gladwell discusses three rules of epidemics, or the three rules for widespread acceptance of an idea:
The Law of the Few
This rule states that the success of a campaign relies on getting several people with specific gifts involved with your campaign (I will elaborate below). This rule is similar to the 80/20 principle; 20% of people do 80% of the work.
The Stickiness Factor
Stickiness refers to how memorable a message is to the audience. We all know campaigns that are sticky; I bet you can name the companies behind all of these old, but sticky campaigns: “Got Milk?”, “We’ll leave a light on for you” and “can you hear me now?” Gladwell argues, with amazing examples, that stickiness is not random, but a result of intense audience research.
The Power of Context
Human behavior is sensitive to and strongly influenced by the environment; people are influenced by the context of the situation. Gladwell suggests that we need to “reframe the way we think about the world.” Your company, product or campaign may be brilliant but unsuccessful because you are targeting the wrong audience and thus using the wrong lingo, mediums or messages.
As you can see from these rules, you need to consider small changes to your campaigns before ditching the whole idea. Small changes can make a big difference.
The Law of the Few/The power of influencers
While all the above rules are useful to marketers, I want to focus on the Law of the Few. Without actually using the term, the Law of the Few refers to who marketers call “influencers.” We have all heard about the power of influencers and that we need to be targeting them with our marketing efforts, but never have I found such a detailed guide to who influencers actually are and why they are so powerful. Gladwell discusses three kinds of influencers necessary to creating an epidemic:
Connecters are exactly what they sound like, people who know a ridiculous number of people. Connecters are people who make acquaintances everywhere they go and they link us all together because they are skilled at introducing people to each other or to ideas.
Salesmen (or women) are persuaders. They are incredibly outgoing and possess powerful negotiation skills. Through words and non-verbal cues salesmen could sell sand to people in the Sahara Desert. For a unreasonably high price. Although negative examples, cult leaders and creators of pyramid schemes would be considered salesmen.
Mavens are information specialists. They are early adopters and accumulate knowledge as though it is vital to survival. Mavens are those people we turn to when we need help and don’t know where else to turn. They are the people we rely on to know something about everything, because they do and they enjoy helping us solve our problems.
Now, I know we are all crunched for time, but I highly suggest you read this book. The examples Gladwell employs will have you truly believing in the three rules of epidemics and make you want to start using the rules in your own marketing plan ASAP.