The last month of US box office has been dominated by Inception, the latest thriller from director Christopher Nolan. Despite Nolan’s pedigree (Memento, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight), Inception is still a huge box office surprise for one big reason: late summer is normally a cinematic dead zone.
With heat waves, family vacations and a general pre-autumn malaise ruling the day, this is the notorious timeframe when Hollywood dumps the films it doesn’t expect to be winners. And yet, here we have a complicated movie without blockbuster stars, and it’s earned over $200 million.
Because people can’t stop talking about it.
Have you seen the multiple theories about its meaning on Slate? Or New York Magazine? Or Salon? Or the blog posts and infographics created by the film’s rabid fans? Or how it’s still (as I type this) a top-10 trending topic on Twitter a full five weekends after its release?
Inception succeeds because it’s a movie people can:
- Relate to
- Form opinions about
- Be inspired by
Inception is a product that fuels its own hype.
Does your product do that?
As Amazon’s Jeff Bezos famously said, “Advertising is the price you pay for having an unremarkable product or service.” And while that’s an oversimplified (and somewhat cynical) statement, it’s not entirely untrue.
The more people are willing to talk about you on their own, the less you have to convince them that you’re conversation-worthy. When people are voluntarily talking about your product, it allows you to invest more time and resources on creating those products that delight your customers, rather than creating noteworthy (but temporary) illusions of interest.
Ultimately, a great ad campaign can make a good product sound interesting, but a great product starts conversations all by itself.