Read the following phrase. What word would you use to fill in the blank?

Peanut butter and _________.

Obviously the answer is jelly. But why is the answer so obvious? It’s because people have been conditioned to associate jelly with peanut butter. It’s psychology. Brands may not realize it, but they can capitalize on this powerful psychological norm to make their products more discoverable and ultimately drive sales.

Who better to explain it all than Jonah Berger, author of the New York Times best seller Contagious: Why Things Catch On. In a session titled The Lasting Impact of Consumer Behavior on Corporations at the Curalate Summit on October 18, Berger explained that smart businesses associate themselves with a trigger — a topic or concept that will increase the likelihood that people think of that brand more often.

A great example is the Geico Hump Day commercials — you know the ones with the annoying camel asking everyone “What day is it?” until somebody begrudgingly says “Hump Day” and the camel goes crazy.

While it isn’t the funniest or sexiest TV commercial ever made, it was the second-most shared ad on the internet during the height of its popularity. Why? Because people consistently share it on Wednesdays. If the Geico commercial is the jelly, Wednesdays are its peanut butter.

Social sharing data for Geico’s Hump Day ad via Jonah Berger’s presentation at the Curalate Summit.

“Wednesday rolls around and provides a regular reminder — or what a psychologist would call a trigger — to make people think about it, talk about it and share it. Because if something is top-of-mind, it’s more likely to be tip-of-tongue,” said Berger, also a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. “If people aren’t thinking about us, they’re not going to purchase from us. 80% of purchase is consideration.”

In his session, Berger also offered some other sage advice to marketers:

Companies need to turn fans into brand advocates:

“Word of mouth generates much higher sales and is a lot more likely to make a person change their behavior. Why? Trust. We trust our friends and colleagues more than we trust ads. … Referred customers have 20% higher customer lifetime value than people who come in through ads.”

We’re too concerned with technology:

“Will Pinterest, Instagram and all these platforms be successful in five or 10 years? I don’t have the answer. I don’t have a crystal ball. What I do know is that we need to understand why people are using these platforms and why people are sharing rather than just focusing on the technology. It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon and say other brands are using this and we should too, but if we don’t understand why it works and why people share — whether its online or off — it’s not going to be very successful.”