The Bookshelf: April Book Recap


Cheers to wrapping up the first book of The Bookshelf! We kicked off with the book Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger and the marketing girl inside me was geeking out with every page turn. I’ve taken notice of this before but this book made it abundantly clear how closely marketing and psychology are linked. Fun fact: when I was in school, I minored in Psychology for a hot second but had to drop it because I was already taking too many courses and my plate was overflowing (story of my life). I wish I had made time for those classes though because Berger proves that being able to get inside consumers heads and understand their thinking is a huge bonus as a marketer!


I love the way Berger broke down his research into 6 sections. He calls them STEPPS. Each section outlines a different reason why something catches on. The STEPPS are: Social Currency, Triggers, Emotions, Public, Practical Value, and Stories. A lot of people ask “how do you make something go viral” or “how did that person gain traction and this other person didn’t” or “why was that campaign so successful”. By outlining the STEPPS, Berger shows that there is no special sauce or secret to it. Things catch on for a variety of reasons but always fall within one or several of these categories.

Of course, as a business owner, I was trying to relate his findings to my own business. While I think there’s truth to all of them, for a service-based business, I feel that Emotions and Stories are the two methods I personally use the most. After reading this book, it's really pushing me to think outside of the box and try to understand the minds of my clients and audience in order to better connect with them!


During the live discussion last night, a good friend and member of The Bookshelf, Laura Neff, called out a quote from the book that really resonated with me. Berger says “Seeing a jar of peanut butter not only triggers us to think about peanut butter, it also makes us think about its frequent partner, jelly. Triggers are like little environmental reminders for related concepts and ideas.”

I love this quote so much because it’s so relevant to all aspects of life. Certain smells trigger memories from your past, a certain picture can trigger a thought about a friend, and a symbol or icon can trigger a thought about your favorite brand. This is such a key takeaway from this book because there are so many ways to include triggers into your business. When you send a gift to your client, they will think of you every time they see it. If you use a consistent color scheme and images for all of your graphics, your audience will start to automatically know it’s you when they see it. See where I’m going with this?



My favorite part of the book was in the Emotions chapter when Berger discusses the Google campaign titled “Parisian Love” promoting their search engine capabilities. There are no actors in the video and no one is speaking but the emotion is so powerful. They accomplish this by using the product through visuals and sound. Watch the full video here.


So there you have it! I’m so happy we kicked off The Bookshelf with Contagious. It was a great book filled with a ton of insight. If you haven’t read the book yet, I highly recommend it. If you have read the book, check out the questions below and leave a comment!

Have you read Contagious already? What is your favorite part of the book and one key takeaway that you’re keeping in your back pocket?