Tipping Point Lessons – Volume 1

So I said I was going to start writing about the Tipping Point, and so it begins…first of all Malcolm Gladwell (the author) looks a lot like Mitch Mitchell the drummer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. That alone gives him street cred in my book. The fro rocks.

There are a few things I took away from reading the book but one aspect in particular stuck out. Gladwell goes into great detail about the kinds of people needed to create an epidemic. Epidemic in this case is not a bad thing, but rather like a momentum shift involving a change in behavior whether its economic or social change. He mentions three types of people needed for an epidemic: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. While Salemen are crucial when talking about epidemics I really only want to focus on the first two groups.

A lot of time in marketing, especially when doing things on tv or print, and to a lesser extent web, it seems a lot of times we try to get our messages out to the masses. We are enamored with number of impressions, hits, and visits. If we get our message out enough and constantly hammer it home, then we might expect less than 1% of that audience to have some sort of name recognition next time they are in the market for that product. This to me is a wasted effort. As documented in "The Tipping Point" it is more important to market to the right audience.

Gladwell mentions a story on how an author used book clubs in San Fran to get her book noticed by the right folks to start a word of mouth marketing campaign, and ended up selling tons of books. Instead of a huge marketing campaign where she spends crazy cash to get her name out and get on Oprah's book club, she went after the fanatical readers in San Fran's book club scene. To me this is to be the right approach where you market to a select few, well connected folks or groups. If their experience is positive it builds from there. There are examples of this going on right now, like on MySpace with bands such as Arctic Monkeys, where they went from not having a record label, to selling the most albums in a week, all through word of mouth. 

The idea of Connectors is that there is a certain population of folks in the universe that know a lot of people in a lot of different groups. The important part is not that these people know a lot of people, but they have a lot of affliations with different types of people from all kinds of different social spheres. This allows the message to potentially reach a much larger audience spectrum.

In addition, there is the idea of Mavens, where these are the groundbreakers. These are the guys that are wanting to try something new, to be the first adopters. They like to be in the know. Not only to they want to try something new, but they want to tell you all about it and recommend it to other folks. The concept of sharing information is a key component to a good Maven.

I can't help but think there is something to be learned by this…and I gotta believe it involves bringing the marketing message to those connectors and mavens through things like blogs and forums. To me this is where the mavens and connectors of tomorrow are hiding out today. The question is how to reach them? And which ones? How do you find those mavens and connectors through the millions of different blogs, etc in the blogoshere (aka blogistan, thanks Churbuck). Atually I suppose, I already I know the answer, and the answer is the same as everything else…metrics.

More to come… 

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