Thursday, August 9, 2012

Working Smarter: Why is "50 Shades of Grey" so popular?

If you were the author of 50 Shades of Grey, you'd be falling off your chair trying to count your income. What should be of most interest to those of us in business however, since we won't be sharing the income, is how this trilogy became so popular.

It's transmission from just another of millions of books owes it's success to two things: sex and viral marketing. Let's deal with the sex element first. 

The trilogy is apparently full of sex and associated erotica. Sex has been a big seller throughout human history and as most know, the pornographic industry is a multi-billion dollar enterprise, so there is a big demand for sex and erotica from one end of the planet to the other. One of our physiological or basic needs, according to psychologist Maslow (see Maslow's Hierarchy) is for sex. Sexual intimacy is also one of the ways we satisfy our higher level need for love and to belong. So, it's a very strong motivator (but hey, you already knew that didn't you?). This trilogy covers a topic in which almost every adult on the planet is interested either covertly or overtly.

The next important factor, viral marketing was probably more accidental than planned and therefore includes an element of luck. After the book was launched, someone discussed it on television and created a significant demand for the title. Publicity for the titles rolled on from there like a runaway train ... my wife tells me nurses are reading it at the hospital where she works; on Australian television there were stories of our athletes reading the trilogy during their stand-down periods. Most of the publicity was free and spread like a virus from country to country and person to person. Today, the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy is the largest selling set of books in history.

The take-away message

The take-away message for business entrepreneurs is:
  1. Try to come up with something novel that everyone wants (create desire)like a free download or gadget that is useful but unavailable on the market
  2. Never underestimate the value of viral marketing
Viral marketing is inexpensive and works. One of the best ways to sell virally is by viral e-book. Next post I will talk about viral e-products.

Let me know if you have read, are reading or plan to read the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy.


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