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How To Make Something Go Viral

(Case Study: The Grow Retreat)

· Small Business Owner,Going Viral,How To,Business Tips,The Grow Retreat

Everyone wants to go viral.

People are trying to figure out how to go viral all the time. I’ve done it too.

Ironically, when I stopped trying to create something that would go viral and just focused on making something awesome, it started happening! I’m talking specifically about The Grow Retreat.

I’m watching the entire business hub of San Antonio hum about the event. Watching people hear about this event from so many other business owners that they are almost to the point of rolling their eyes (Which is great! The next step in the psychological progression is curiosity about the event!). Past attendees can’t shut up about it and it’s become a “go to” event!

So since I’ve always wanted to know how to make something spread like fire, and I stumbled onto the formula, I thought I’d share!

Hella Good!

I wasn’t trying to create an event that would go viral when I first conceived the Grow Retreat. I was trying to come up with the event that I would love to attend. I went to every event I could get my hands on. Picking out the concepts I loved, and documenting the issues I hated or that messed up my experience. It’s taken time to get it all down, but we’re close to having every single moment of the event carefully crafted and exactingly examined and chosen.

I wanted people focused on the content and growth, not on going out to get snacks or figuring out what to do for lunch. So we chose to provide snacks and meals at the event.

I wanted people to really understand how special they are when they attend. So we made it exclusive, invitation only, and refuse to share the location with you unless you’re registered.

I wanted the opportunity to talk with the speakers at other events, and never had it. So I created the event where the speakers, true titans who speak on massive stages, are sitting in the audience next to you to participate in the event.

It worked.

People showed up and were blown away. They started to realize that all the stuff I was talking about wasn’t just talk - the event lives up to the hype. And they started talking. A lot. Especially about how I promised that 2020 would be even better than 2019!

Talk about it! A Lot!

I spent a ton, and I mean a ton, of time talking about it - in public.

The first few years of the event weren’t like that. I spent so much time in the details of the event that I assumed I was talking about it as much as I thought about it.


I look back on my posts and emails and am amazed at how little promotion I did.

Now? I talk about it everywhere! Publically. Any time I get the chance. Literally. Speaking engagements, social media, emails, I’m obsessed with this retreat right now. And that goes a long way toward getting people interested in and talking about it.

Anytime I have any platform of any kind to talk to people, I end up talking about the Grow Retreat because it is my life and I’m proud of it.

Incentivized Others…

Too many times we default to thinking that incentives mean referral fees. And the answer is: sometimes.

There are two issues with this:

  1. If I wasn’t thinking about you and your event before, I doubt I’ll remember to think about it now, even for small potential referral fee dependent on whether you close the deal.

  2. Whatever you’re offering probably isn’t enough for me to stake my reputation on! I’ve promoted people’s events and offers that turned out to be absolute crap. I won’t do it again.

Instead, consider the psychological side. Look at how people think and what they value. For some people you have to show them the impact that this event had on their life and how it can help others. For some people it truly is a referral fee because they’re just excited to make the money. For some people it’s the fact that I have a great relationship with them because we’ve worked together, I’ve promoted them, and then I’ve come back and asked them to do the same for me so I’ve created a “social currency” debt that they WANT to repay.

Make it Easy…

For the first few years I had a lot of people who wanted to talk about it, but no idea how to do so. This year, I’m hand-crafting messages for people to share to make it easy to talk about the event when needed!

We created a generic script, and then I worked with individual people I was asking to promote the event in order to help them figure out what it was about this event they wanted to promote. A lot of the time, it was adding a specific kind of value to the conversation so that whoever was promoting, could be helping the person they were promoting it to. We told them what was going on at the retreat so they knew what they could talk about and how it helped others.

Once one person started to talk about it, it spread to the next and the next until it started to spread like wildfire. But here’s the biggest key…

Make it Hella Good!...

I had to make it good first. It had to be worth talking about!

People get it backwards sometimes. They tell me to promote and then put the good stuff in. But the thing is that nothing in the Grow Retreat was going to spread and go viral until it was worth going viral over.

Instead of asking “How do I make this go viral” I asked “How can I make this a fan-freaking-tastic event?” That was the subtle key that helped this epic event go viral, and that can help you create your own viral event.

Curious about the Grow Retreat now? If you’re not already coming, check out the star-studded speaker lineup here! It is an interview access only event, so if you want to get in the room where it happens, make sure you get on the list for an interview soon!

About the Author:

Stephanie Scheller is a TED speaker, a two-time best-selling author and the founder of Grow Disrupt: a San Antonio based company dedicated to disrupting the way the world does business through training. In just under a decade, Stephanie has been behind the scenes with nearly 2500 small businesses. She has worked in groups and one-on-one to create total business transformation & help business owners live the life they got into business to create!

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