The Practical Value Behind Being Contagious

Adding practical value to your message.

“News others can use.” In other words, practical and useful information.

Jonah Berger’s fifth step in “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” is practical value and its role in getting things shared and to go viral.

He explains it like this: Say you come across a new recipe full of veggies and protein, perfect for your CrossFit members. You’ll probably go ahead and post that recipe on your social media channels, hoping your members will put it to use in their pursuit for a higher quality of life. Berger points out people like to share information that is useful and practical because, 1) we feel good when we are helpful, 2) the people we share with “see we know and care about them” and 3) “the sharing cements our friendship.” Thus, the practical value of the message and the reason why we share.

So, how can practical value apply to your Box’s product and message? Well, Berger asked a question: What makes something of practical value? What makes something useful enough to be shared?

He dove into the example of discounts. In an experiment, two different clothing catalogues were sent out. One version had some of the products marked as on sale; the other did not. However, both versions had the products at the same price. And yet, it was found that the items marked on sale increased demand.

The fact that the products were simply marked as on sale gave them practical value. People love a good deal.

However, there is more that comes into play with deals and discounts than you think.

For example, if you had the chance to win $10 or $20, you would probably be much more excited if you won 20 bucks. However, if the amounts were either $1,010 or $1,020, you don’t see as big of a difference between winning one over the other. Why? “The same change — gaining ten more dollars — has a smaller and smaller impact the farther you move from your reference point of zero dollars or not winning anything,” wrote Berger.

So, Berger’s point is that yes discounts and deals bring practical value, but “promotional offers that seem surprising or surpass expectations are more likely to be shared.”

But how can you even begin to determine making your promotional offer surprising? Berger offers up the Rule of 100: If the product’s price is less than $100, then write out the discount in a percentage because it will seem larger. If the product’s price is more than $100, instead of a percentage use a numerical discount.

For example, if you want to offer 10 percent off your $100 monthly membership, instead advertise it as $10 off. Interesting, isn’t it?

Plus, packaging your message or product effectively and to the correct audience is also key. Keep that in mind!

As we know, CrossFit already has practical value. It’s a fitness regime that is changing peoples’ lives for the better. However, you “need to make it clear why [your] product or idea is so useful that people just have to spread the word.”

Simply put by Berger, show prospects why your Box is news they can use.

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at