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The Tipping Point: Malcolm Gladwell's 3 Basic Laws of Causing Epidemics

By Bob Ruffolo

The Tipping Point: Malcolm Gladwell's 3 Basic Laws of Causing Epidemics

malcolm-gladwell2The Tipping Point is Malcolm Gladwell's bestselling book that identifies and analyzes "that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire."

Full of incredible stories from start to finish, this book is definitely an entertaining one to read. More importantly, though, there are several lessons that businesses can take away from reading Tipping Point.

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Gladwell examines the science of epidemics to find how small actions combined with the perfect circumstances -- right time, right place, and with the right people -- can create a tipping point for a product.

A notable example from the book is when Hush Puppies tipped in 1993 after years of decline when the brand was near extinction. Fashion-forward hipsters from Soho New York started wearing Hush Puppies and it sparked a trend that grew through word of mouth across the entire country and increased sales of Hush Puppies seventy-fold.

Using the three basic laws of epidemics, Gladwell suggests a replicable plan for companies to get their own products to tip:

  1. The Law of the Few
  2. The Stickiness Factor
  3. The Power of Context

Let’s take a look at these principles and how they can be applied to your business.

The Law of the Few

Epidemics start with a few highly infectious people who get the virus themselves and pass it along to everyone around them. The same principle applies to infectious products.

There are certain people, who for different reasons have a significant influence on trends. Gladwell breaks these people down into three categories.

The Maven

Mavens are opinion leaders that people look up to. They are experts in their field and spread their influence by sharing knowledge. These are the gatekeepers for early-adoption of your product.

Relevant examples include:

  • A-list bloggers
  • YouTube stars
  • Celebrities
  • Talk show hosts
  • Review sites
  • Niche media

These people have the power to make or break your business.

Oprah had the power to turn any no-name author into a NYT bestseller overnight by simply mentioning their book on her show. It’s called the Oprah Effect. Although most mavens don’t have the reach of Oprah, there are literally thousands of mavens that you could potentially contact to help spread the word about your product.

Getting in touch with celebrities is difficult, but the good news is you don’t need to. People are more skeptical of celebrities and mainstream media outlets than in previous years. Nowadays, consumers trust bloggers more than celebrities.

What does this mean for you?

This means you need to start reaching out to influencers and get your product in their hands. The type of people you reach out to depends on your business.

Where does your ideal persona spend their time online?

Do you have an innovative fitness app? Reach out to the big names in the YouTube fitness community and ask them to review for you.

Not sure how to go about reaching out to influencers? Read this guide from Kissmetrics, it covers everything you need to know.

You only get one shot at a first impression. Despite the fact that blogging is seen as a casual profession, the top bloggers are legitimate businesspeople and expect professional communication or you won’t be taken seriously.

Don't Have Time to Read The Full Book?

Don't worry, we've got you covered. In our full summary of The Tipping Point, we'll continue to explore Gladwell's three basic laws of epidemics and how you can apply it to your organization. 

To view the full summary, click "continue reading" below. 

Photo Credit: Mashable

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Marketing Strategy
Published on August 18, 2015

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