from Gopro’s Facebook

Market through the “Woah” sensation

How marketing with inspiration and the “Woah” sensation is the most shareable and sales-driving tactic.

Sean Smith
Dec 3, 2013 · 10 min read

*just a warning, this post is a tad lengthy — In it I give steps towards marketing through inspiration and examples of each form. I’d love for you to hang around for the whole thing, so please sit down, grab a cup of joe and enjoy!*

We’ve all felt the “Woah” sensation.

It’s an extraordinarily uplifting feeling. It makes you want to be better, do better, act better, live better, or think differently.

We may have not even realized that it was promotional content that made us feel this way.

Because when it feels good, it doesn’t feel like an advertisement.

We weren’t “played” — we enjoyed it and the company benefits from that, they’ve given themselves a level of brand trust that we (the consumer) don’t currently realize. (more on that later)

That’s what marketing through the “Woah” sensation is all about — Movement, but not un-warranted movement.

It’s a movement that the company created, we enjoyed and subsequently forwarded (aka shared, aka contributed to, aka propelled forward).

“Woah” marketing can be had on multiple emotional levels.

“Woah” can be controversial

There is a fine line with controversy between “Woah” in a good way or in a negative way.

The line is your target market. The people who will actually be buying your stuff, using your products or engaging with your community. If you don’t know who this is, don’t be controversial.

Controversy is about polarization. Plain and simple. It’s about getting all of the people who agree with you rallying behind you, and the people who don’t believe in you speaking about you anyways.

If you don’t know clearly who will be rallying behind you and who will be roaring against you, don’t pick a side. Do more research, then pick a side.

Chik-fil-a picking an anti-gay stance, Oreo responding with a pro-gay stance, this is a perfect representation of polarization and controversial media sparking.

This isn’t exactly “Woah” material that I like though, so let’s move on to something that is.

Remote — the book from 37signals.

The 10,000 foot view of Remote is that it speaks to the benefits of the “remote work environment” (a big topic in startups and modern business culture) which is also a very counter-culture topic to common business practices (or as I like to call it, “old business”).

This book sparks a major amount of controversy and media for 37signals but subsequently every other business that promotes a remote work environment.

The founder and partner of 37signals, Jason Fried and DHH both believe heavily on a remote work environment and publicly defend and advocate it to new businesses and well established businesses alike.

They chose their side and have many believers rallying behind them! Even better than this, they have the HUGE corporations and businesses that don’t believe in the same principles talking about them.

DHH has even publicly ousted Best Buy, Yahoo and HP who have notoriously moved back from a remote work environment to an office model for all of their employees. He writes in his blog post titled “Rally cry for sinking companies: “All hands on deck”

It’s sad when you see once-great companies reduced to this smoldering mess of mistrust and cargo culting. But hey, at least we know now the pitch of the whistle that says its time to abandon ship. It’s “all hands on deck”.

The “remote work environment” is a “Woah” inducer just because of the sheer thought of being able to work from home.

If you work in an office, just let that marinade for a minute.

  1. No commute
  2. No interruptions
  3. No “Hey can you do this real quick even though it’s completely meaningless to you”
  4. In your own environment
  5. On your own clock
  6. Under your own control

Those are the kinds of things the “remote” controversy gives you a “Woah” sensation about.

The key to positive controversy is breaking social norms and picking your battles well.

Even something as simple as being completely transparent about your company’s and employee’s salaries can spark some intense media discussion.

Like this from Buffer.

Buffer’s salary formula chart

Buffer nailed down their salary formula and thought, “Why not make this public?” I doubt it was for reasons of marketing that they decided to take this chart public, as it probably had more to do with relieving the angst carried with possible applicants — but it still got more media attention than most startups get. This got Buffer featured on, Huffington Post, and Fast Company.

Which also ended up in a conversation with a friend while talking about the difference in marketing between a startup that was blatantly cursing on Twitter and the elegance used by Buffer.

Needless to say, I think you can see who won that exchange.

“Woah” can be inspirational

RedBull’s “Stratos” launch was one of the most inspirational promotional feats of the past decade.

It didn’t feel like promotion, it felt like entertainment — because it was entertainment. It was “Woah” inspiring entertainment.

It made you want to get up and do something, move and better yourself, test your own limits and go beyond them.

Tipping it off with Felix Baumgartner saying his signature quote;

“The only limit is the one you set yourself”

While on his knees, on the ground, after having just leapt over 100,000 feet from the edge of space with a parachute and NASA-like uniform.

Felix Baumgartner after the jump.

If this doesn’t make your jaw drop, your blood curdle and your mind wander of the your own possibilities — I don’t know what will.

This is what RedBull was counting on, they wanted people to do more and inspire action but also make the world wonder and strive to break their own limitations.

It doesn’t have to be as elaborate as jumping from space though. It can be as simple as a blog.

Buffer’s productivity and life-hacking blog is a perfect example.

Buffer understands their crowd, they’re the kind of people that want to better everything they do — so their blog isn’t just about social media, it’s about bettering one’s self, one’s life, one’s health.

Buffer constantly puts out content that inspires action in their audience. Posts range from the common habits of successful people all the way to the tools and products Buffer uses internally to run their business.

This is just sheer inspiration to be better.

Another example that I briefly chimed on is Tim Ferriss’s & 37signals’ books. Life altering inspiration to lose weight, work from home, find your muse, learn any skill or just to be more productive.

Tim Ferriss shows in his book “The 4-Hour Workweek” how he built his own fortune, how it all started as he worked 80 hours in a job he hated and then changed it all using the steps he outlines in his book to make twice what he was making in 40 hours, then twice that in 20 hours and so on.

The last one I’m going to harp on with inspiration is Tony Robbin’s talks. Inspiration, in your face, movement focused. Tony Robbins speaks about how he went from a homeless 17 year old living on the street to buying the castle he had plastered on his wall as a kid. He had an uphill battle from the get-go and he strived through it. He uses NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming, or the art of reprogramming your brain) to give people hope in their lives, to see the possibility that was clouded from them, and genuinely changes peoples lives in massive ways.

This is all through the “Woah” sensation. The act of inspiration. Tony Robbins is a global celebrity, widely known as a life coach who has mentored some of the greatest greats of our time.

The reason he has become a celebrity is the impact of inspiration he has on so many people. They share it, they talk about him, they propel it forward.

Inspiration is contagious, or “viral” as many would put it.

“Woah” can be exhilarating

GoPro’s product launches have always been notoriously teamed with jaw-dropping product videos.

GoPro sponsers pro athletes doing the most absurdly incredible stunts in mind-boggling locations, all recorded on GoPro devices and paired with some gnarly beats featuring artists like The Glitch Mob.

Like this one for example;

Each of these product launches have a jaw-dropping “Woah” appeal that not only leaves the watcher wanting more, but also wanting to do more.

When you want to do more, you want to record what you’re doing and share your awesome feats.

What you end up doing is essentially providing GoPro with content marketing on a grander scale than any other startup in the world.

GoPro just has to provide the product (which they sell, mind you) and inspire the movement — you do the rest.

It’s benefiting you, but it’s also of paramount benefit to GoPro.

Which is part of the reason why they went from a $5,000 savings account hunch by Founder & CEO Nick Woodman to a $1,000,000,000 company in 10 years.

“Woah” can be interesting

Amazon’s drone announcement on Cyber Monday had everyone tweeting.

It was interesting, but also made us say “Woah” due to the impact this could have on our everyday lives.

A “60 Minutes” spot on CBS with the CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos unveiling their “30 minute shipping solution” to the world in the form of octacopter drones got Amazon more coverage on Cyber Monday than any other company.

Spike in trending “Amazon” conversation on the web

Obviously targeting this unveiling to drastically increase sales on their already hyped Cyber Savings shopping holiday, Amazon destroyed their competition and actionably raked in the most influence.

It was interesting, it captured our minds and thought “duh” that just works.

Subsequently it was a bit controversial, due to the amount of controversy recently around “drones” in the military and their domestic usage.

Altogether Amazon killed it in this release. Much like Google’s release of Google Glass.

Amazon quickly got their future goals out in the open, even though they are possibly 2-5 years off from actual implementation.

Like Google they let their competition know ahead of time what they were doing, and in the act denouncing any competition from coming to life. No one is going to compete against Amazon’s infrastructure on the same field of battle. Not many venture capitalists are going to invest in a Google Glass competitor when no venture firm can out-spend Google’s revenue.

It’s a smart release on multiple reasons, but the “Woah” sensation caused by the interesting subject matter is one reason why this is such a cool media release.

“Woah” is emotional

Google astonished marketers and consumers alike with their “Reunion” ad targeted at the India market.

The ad shows the journey of two long-lost friends reuniting in their late 80's by their grand-children using Google products to find each other and set up a meet.

It was so emotional that you couldn’t help but to like it. It got me so interested that I actually researched the intricacies of the ad (not knowing all of the history between why they would actually be seperated).

PS: I researched it using Google.

The point of this advertisement was to show the breadth of Google Search in the mobile space, as mobile search has been Google’s weak point while users are opting for searching for their data using native apps instead (ie: Yelp, Zagat, Urbanspoon etc.).

This is something that Google wants to focus majorly on, but it’s so subliminal in this ad because you’re focusing on the story that you don’t even notice the product placement and brand trust that’s flowing through your eyelids.

Marketing through the “Woah” sensation is at it’s heart emotional.

It relies entirely on a strong emotional response.

The chills running down your spine and the bumps standing up on your back.

This video does that, it’s what every “Woah” focused ad should do.

“Woah” is actionable

The “Woah” sensation makes you want to get up and move. It makes you want to take action. Immediately. It’s a sales driver, it’s a knee-jerk responder, it’s a impulse inducer.

When you finish watching a GoPro video you say (or at least I say) “HELL YEAH! I’ve got to get out and go do some more extreme s%#$! Oh and I need a camera to record it with” which is why I ended up buying the GoPro to record my personal extreme sports ventures, and I will in the future.

“Woah” is simple

It engages an emotional response — leading to subliminal brand trust.

It lays down clear actionable steps — propelling you to the first movement towards using their product.

It uses a targeted approach — to ensure that it aligns with you, their audience in the way that will have you interested.

It leads to end usage—initiating the process that leads to the sale.

I believe every business should think about how they can market using the “Woah” approach — that may just be because it’s my favorite form of marketing though.

I live to inspire, to motivate and to push people to go beyond their limits. The “Woah” approach is very close to my heart because of this.

I believe everybody at their core wants to be inspired, they want motivation, they want to be better.

It’s what pushes us forward as a species. It’s what makes us strive to be greater, to better the world around us.

The only thing that you need to know is how your audience wants to be inspired.

What do they want to be inspired with?

What will give them the most value?

That’s the only question, then you can inspire to the masses.

I’m a content marketer and SEO consultant, having worked with brands like Best Western, Holiday Inn, MFG, Bidsketch & Olo to boost revenue through clever content and organic search. I’m also a consultant for hire.

If you dig this post please “Recommend” it below and leave notes! I’d love to hear your thoughts, it all means a ton to me! Thanks!

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