Murray Davis shows us that the recipe for “interesting” is actually incredibly simple. And though it is still hard, and potentially risky, if you filter your ideas through this lens, you’ll get much more impact from your own ideas. When I started applying that lens to my own work: more things took off.
I was in the business of CRM and bulk email newsletters, and so one expectation I saw folks had was what constitutes SPAM. Most people think SPAM is of the casino or viagra variety, but doesn’t include the times when someone buys a list of journalists and sends them constant follow-ups about their funding round or product launch.
So I built Trick a Journalist. It’s a website promoting software that will automatically barrage ‘sucker’ journalists with communication until they succumb to writing about you.
It’s obviously a satire on what “biz dev” has become, hopefully getting people to reconsider this practice they take for granted. I didn’t think people would actually sign up for it. Then they did.
So I looked for another expectation to break: We as a company should always grow. How about instead we start firing customers? The bad ones. The ones who’d sign up for something like Trick a Journalist. Those folks shouldn’t be allowed to use email.
What if we break another expectation: you can’t possibly advertise a service like Trick a Journalist. Well, maybe you can at a place like Reddit where anything goes. So I took out ads on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, Reddit. And unexpectedly, Reddit banned me from the ad. Everyone else let it through.
What ended up happening was the most viral marketing campaign I’ve executed in my entire career. All these broken expectations became their own article or video or blog post, and they all took off with numbers far outpacing other things I’ve produced.
Now, coming up with this campaign wasn’t easy. And as I think about trying to repeat another “viral” Murray Davis type effort, I stress about some of the details I want to execute on.
But if you take your own marketing work and ideas and pass them through a simple filter: “does this break expectations”, you’ll see a lot more virality out of your efforts.
Going back to Casey, if you take a wide look at his entire channel you realize it’s all devoted to breaking people’s expectations. Video after video has situations of Casey doing things that other people think you aren’t able or allowed to do. Casey even made a video that I think truly describes his viral filmmaking secret.
Do what you can’t.
P.S. If you’re looking for more help building or marketing your projects, please reach out. We’ve been doing this a long time. We’d love to help.
And you should follow me on YouTube: youtube.com/nathankontny where I share more about how I run a business, do product design, market myself, and just get through life.