You Only Need Ten People To Get Traction

…is what Seth Godin wrote in this article

Find ten people. Ten people who trust you/respect you/need you/listen to you…

Those ten people need what you have to sell, or want it. And if they love it, you win. If they love it, they’ll each find you ten more people (or a hundred or a thousand or, perhaps, just three). Repeat.

He also wrote (the article was written in 2008) that within 3 years, it’d be such common advice that it’d be boring.

Now that I find intriguing. Especially since altough I do hear some people talk about the importance of talking to potential clients and find out what it is they need, most people seem to actually try and market to everyone.

I suppose you could draw up some user persona en try to figure out what it is they want but you’d still need to talk to them in real life for it to be really effective. Otherwise it would actually only be a hunch, right?

So that’s why I find it so bizarre that it still isn’t that common and I honestly think that it’s going to be worse. We’re living in a time in which it’s being made super easy (or so it seems at least) to get whatever information about whatever it is you’re looking for without actually connecting to people.

We want simplicity and speed. We want it now. But I think – and it does scare the crap out of me, honestly – that going slow and steady will always win. 

The “indie community” is an interesting place. I do see some success within that community but it is moderate. I also see a lot of people building shit for nobody in particular.

Sure, if you have a problem with something and you manage to be able to build a solution, go for it. But that still doesn’t mean it is really good, nor does it mean that people will find it. Lots of people try to build something great and “launch” to crickets.

Of course it is possible to gain an audience if you’re verbal about building your app so I do believe in building in public, but that still doesn’t take away the fact that talking to actual people (in whatever way you like, of course) is the way to get information from them. And to be fair, I am one of those people.

I, too, have build stuff without talking to people. And to be really frank. that has quite a lot to do with the fact that their opinion might kill my product. 

In this recent article, I found this quote:

“We’re seeking to make a change in part of the world. How do we find the right people and tell them the right (true) story that helps them get to where they’re going–and that they’ll tell to their peers?”

Seth is breaking down that sentence into the parts:

Make a change. If you’re on some project that doens’t change anything, just keeps everything as is, it’s hard to grow. You’re here to make a change so be really clear about what that change is. 

The right people. Whenever you’re about to make a change, it’s never for everyone. Nothing remarkable is, otherwise it’s not worth making a remark about. So who are your ‘right’ people? What’s their difficulty? How can you be as specific as possible?

The right (true) story. If you look at great marketing, like the well known iPhone presentations, it’s never about all the specs. It’s all about the story. It usually has to do with status, change, fear. And as long as there is truth to the story, you can keep building on it and building on it, making it better and better. Nike is doing that really well for example. They’re all about ‘just do it’ and it has resonated for decades in a row.

That helps them get to where they’re going. I heard someone say the other day (and I’ll try and find it again because it’s interesting) that selling doesn’t really exist. You’re just convincing people to buy something they already wanted to buy. In other words, help them to get what they wanted already. 

That they’ll tell to their peers. If something is really good and is helping people to get what they want, it’s very likely that they will talk about it. The beauty of this is that if people really like some product, they’ll talk about it. It raises their own status, they’ll be able to help others with it, so in effect it’s reselling itself over and over. 

So in conclusion, you need ten people to start with. Ten people is enough to reach a hundred. And therefore a thousand and so on, and so on. Ten people is doable to talk to. Really understand their difficulties. And solve their problems for them.

That’s what’s valuable. In the process, you’ve created a great relationship with them hopefully and they’ll be happy to share your product. It’s really likely you don’t even have to ask them to share it, because if they love it, they’ll be happy to do it.

This frame of marketing has made it click for me. I always had trouble understanding the concept but this really resonated with me so I hope it does with you as well. 

Build a personal brand that really suits you.


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