• Tristan

Virality: Using triggers to grow your customer base.

At a given moment, some thoughts are on your mind and easily accessible, whilst others are buried deep in your memory and will only be recalled at a later date. For example now you might be thinking about this sentence, or thinking about where Tristan is going with this post, or what you want for lunch, or maybe just about the email notification you got.


The subjects you love, you tend to surround yourself with, which makes them easier to recall, therefore making you more likely to think about them regularly. Football fans will think about football, foodies will think about what they are having for dinner tonight. These are internally triggered thoughts that drive your daily conversations and habits.


That email notification you just got, that's an external trigger. Likewise, walking past an indian restaurant is an external trigger to make you think of what you're having for lunch. As was Mars Bar's increase in sales during NASA's Pathfinder mission to Mars.


Internal Triggers:

Your business or product can take advantage of internal triggers by creating an association with an emotion and the psychological relief your product can bring. For example when you're sat on the bus and feel that pang of loneliness or boredom you subconsciously turn to your iPhone and tap the Instagram logo. Scrolling through pictures of your friends or content you like distracts you from this negative feeling and builds a habit of: loneliness 🙁, go on Instagram 📲, relief 😌.


By initially using well-timed external triggers, for example a timely email or notification, you can start to build up the association with that feeling and your product. So each time a customer feels that emotion they feel obliged to either talk about it and share it with their friends, or to use your product.


Positive emotions that prompt emotional arousal are powerful like awe or excitement. Negative emotions like boredom, loneliness, anxiety, anger or indecisiveness are often powerful triggers as people look for ways to stamp out or suppress these emotions.


External Triggers:

As a consumer you are constantly influenced by external triggers. When you walk to work and see that sign for a Big Mac, whether you consciously take it in, or just see the McDonalds logo, this trigger has bumped up the relevance of the brand and product on your mind.


An ingenious example talked about in Jonah Berger's book Contagious is the KitKat Coffee Break campaign. They advertised having KitKat with a coffee, creating an association between the 2 products, and a clever one at that. Coffee and KitKat are highly related products, and coffee is something lots of people have everyday, sometimes multiple times a day. So the trigger for thinking about KitKat is both well correlated and frequent.


Use triggers to grow your business:

Whether your B2B, B2C, B2B2C, B2C2B, B2B2B (yes, amazingly, these are all real) your goals is to have a product or service that people want to use, and are inclined to talk about.


Sure you could raise a load of money, throw it all into marketing and buy a load of new customers, whilst in the process destroying your CAC:LTV ratio. But before you do this, I'd look into how you can use both internal and external triggers to grow engagement with your product and get people talking about it more often.


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Tristan Gillen