I recently re-read Malcom Gladwell’s book, “The Tipping Point” as an audiobook and the marketing principles contained in it are timeless.
The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.
The premise of the book relies heavily on three types of personalities whose input and influence on a movement create a true social tipping point:
- Connectors. Those people in a community who know or are connected to a large number. Connectors can exert an abnormal amount of influence on the group because of their proximity to many others in the group.
- Mavens. Those individuals who provide and disseminate critical information about a movement, idea, or product. They are not only information brokers, but they are also often considered experts or “in the know” when it comes to the idea they are peddling.
- Salesmen. The charismatic persuaders. They’re the individuals who can sell the proverbial ketchup popsicle to the 80-year-old woman in white gloves.
The influence of each of these three groups is critical to the successful “tip” of any venture.
Some tipping points happen organically and the results typically surprise everyone.
The most recent non-marketing tipping point was the global pandemic.
Information and ideas can, like a virus, spread epidemically.
But in our case, we want the antonym of “flattening the curve.”
- How Can You Create a Marketing “Tipping Point” for Your Brand?
- The Stickiness Factor
- Know Your Audience, Adjust Your Content
- Frame Your Own Tipping Point Context
- Engaging Mavens, Connectors & Salesmen
- Swing for the Fences, But Be Prepared to Strikeout
- Tipping Point Marketing is Not About Upselling & Cross-Selling
How Can You Create a Marketing “Tipping Point” for Your Brand?
Balloon pop: unless you have virality or a nearly unlimited marketing budget, it’s likely going to take years to “tip” the scales in your favor.
The organic tipping point in digital marketing occurs when organic reference, share and backlink influx becomes greater than the results of internal outreach efforts.
In digital marketing, the tipping point is the moment the community does more to promote your message than you could ever do.
It’s a glorious thing and it’s possible for nearly any brand, but it takes time, effort, patience and consistency.
Here’s my personal tipping point formula for marketing your business online.
The Stickiness Factor
A critical principle of your own tipping point when it comes to digital marketing is the stickiness factor.
Not only should your content be quality, but it should also be evergreen and timeless.
In other words, it should stick.
Flash-in-the-pan is the antithesis of a true tipping point for your marketing efforts.
This is just one of the reasons Google and other search engines have greatly extended the amount of time it takes to rank for competitive terms online.
Content production that is truly evergreen should withstand the test of time (and even search engine algorithm updates).
But often, content is only as sticky as the product or service it promulgates.
Know Your Audience, Adjust Your Content
At the outset, your message needs to be tailored to your audience.
Your greatest blunder will be creating content assets that are off-brand,
Furthermore, not all campaigns, assets or targeted copy are suited for the long-form skyscraper technique.
Have you dug deep into your customer persona?
Do you know that your ideal client is a caucasian female between the ages of 33 and 43 with 2 children and an annual household income of $120K or more?
First, know your audience.
Tailor your messages to their pain points, frustrations and problems.
But, be prepared for phase #2, which involves going broadly outside your intended audience.
I hate the phrase “riches are in the niches.”
While true, it negates the possibility of reaching that eventual tipping point to a broader segment.
Stay focused, but when the tip starts to occur, be prepared to engage wholly different groups.
Frame Your Own Tipping Point Context
As Gladwell puts it:
Epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of the times and places in which they occur.
In other words, a tipping point might work well in one time and place and have little to no impact in another.
Timing and location are everything.
But, how do you frame your own context?
While there a number of features out of your control, you can focus on what is in your immediate control:
- Quality of the offered product or service
- Quality and clarity of the message about the product or service
- Timing of the launch of the message
- The audience targeted in the launch of the message
- Persistency and evergreen nature of the message
- Place or platform(s) used in the dissemination of the message
Most marketers control more than they think.
Our marketing framework holistically encompasses the “times and places” and “conditions and circumstances” to ensure maximum impact and ROI.
Engaging Mavens, Connectors & Salesmen
If you want to follow the formula of organic growth by hitting your own tipping point, wouldn’t it make sense to meaningfully engage with the mavens, connectors and salespeople?
Remember, connecting with mavens, connectors and salespeople is what “outreach campaigns” are all about.
Gladwell discusses the connectors with “real” social connections and the “rule of 150.”
That is, any single connector maxes out their true social ties at about 150 people.
Beyond that, it’s tough to maintain true influence over a relationship.
At the time of Gladwell’s original writing, “social media influencers” were not a thing.
In his original definition of a connector, a true connector would max out their connections at the rule of 150.
Even influential movie stars, sports icons and other celebrities were unlikely to have a way to meaningfully engage with their followers and fans when Gladwell’s book was first published in 2000.
Today, these individuals wield an almost outlandish and outsized role in driving an epidemic, as Gladwell calls it.
In fact, it was the social media marketing elites who helped drive the growth of social media sites like Twitter and Instagram.
Gladwell deems mavens as “information specialists” and “information brokers.”
In the context of a “clinically proven pill that helps you lose weight,” they’re the gaggle of medical doctors willing to give peer-review and glowing testimonials of your product.
Mavens are the right people to effectively show (often with data), rather than tell.
These are my kind of people.
The principle that “facts don’t lie, people do” is actually part of our mission statement.
When there’s a budget for it, salespeople can and should be hired.
When there’s not, you can rely on the good graces of persuaders among the mavens and connectors.
The very best internal salespeople will be expensive.
If your product or service is unique, uncontested (either naturally or by IP), or unparalleled in its offering, you may find the luxury of natural persuaders and salespeople who’ll promote your wares to infinity. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have organically established numerous software resellers, then your rapid scale can be more assured.
Some would call that lucky, but the work and effort was likely front-loaded in the offer, not in connecting with some external persuader.
Swing for the Fences, But Be Prepared to Strikeout
Did you know that famous home run hitter Babe Ruth not only held the record for home runs, he also held the record for career strikeouts (at 1,330) for 29 years until he was bested by Micky Mantle?
If you’re looking to swing for the fences, be prepared to strike out.
This is particularly true for those looking to create viral content.
Unfortunately, not all the most powerful stories can have their own Dollar Shave Club moment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue working for it.
But, business is not as binary as baseball.
Swinging for the fence as you strive to move up-market in your niche doesn’t necessarily mean the business strikes out. It just means we need to try again.
Remember, we’re playing an infinite game.
Tipping Point Marketing is Not About Upselling & Cross-Selling
The tipping point is about finding new clients, customers, mavens and connectors to blast your message to new markets.
It’s not about digging through your CRM and dredging up dead leads.
It’s never stale.
No, tipping point marketing is always fresh and adventurous with a focus on the next big thing.
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