It's amazing to see how many average or low-quality products get attention. Things like the Snuggie, Pet Rock, and Rebecca Black's song "Friday" are great examples. And when we look at why this is, at first glance it seems completely random. But when we look closely, we'll notice that there are patterns in how these products became game changers.
Getting people to talk about your product is a must in today's market. If you can't get others to advertise for you, there's no way you'll be able to compete with all the noise in your industry. To do so takes lots of experimentation and understanding of what causes things like the Shake Weight to be huge successes.
Below, I'll share a couple of strategies you should try to get your product to go viral. Getting your company's name to spread doesn't happen online, it happens from someone telling another at work or at the bar. And when this happens over and over again, you have the chance at becoming the next cat video on YouTube that gets over 100 million views.
1) Build a sense of exclusivity
Try making your product available to a small set of people first, eventually getting others to try and find a way "in" to access it. Facebook did this by starting on individual college campuses. Google used a strategy of exclusivity with Gmail. Many bars have done this by making their establishment feel like a secret. In reality, they know that everyone sucks at keeping secrets.
To do this for your product, start by only giving access to a small and direct group of people who you know would benefit. Tell them to keep it a secret or only invite their closest friends. If you're building a software product, access codes are a great way to test this growth strategy.
2. Associate your product with something else
Whenever I have a peanut butter sandwich, I think of jelly. If I watch a movie, I always have to get popcorn. And if I go play basketball, I buy a Gatorade on the way. This is because these products are attached to the other product or activity I am thinking about.
This is a great strategy for you to use other products to build a brand for your own. Think about when your product would be most helpful for your customer. Then think about what other products the customer would be using at that time. When you market your product, try getting the user to build the association they have like popcorn and a movie. You want to get the customer to think about your product in certain scenarios, and partnering with another product is a great way to do so.
3. Shock your customers into sharing your product
I'll never forget a commercial I saw about fast food. It put a hamburger next to a pile of fat and told the amount of that yellow slush was going into my body whenever I went to McDonald's. And while I still enjoy the occasional In-n-Out Burger, the commercial has definitely reduced the amount of times I go.
Another example was the anti-smoking commercial that put body bags in front of tobacco executive offices. This shocked millions of viewers who had to tell their friends what they just saw, causing the message to go viral.
When looking to market your product, think about what can cause it to shock someone into sharing it. The more shocking, the more people will talk.