Going Beyond the 1,000 True Fans
A powerful marketing paradigm for any business.
In one of the most iconic business blog posts ever written, Kevin Kelly espouses the axiom that if you have 1,000 true fans of your business, then you can have a successful business. He was mostly writing in relation to creators, but it really applies to any business.
In a parallel version of this maxim, marketing legend Dan Kennedy has his 10k/1k/100 paradigm. This paradigm is mostly intended to apply to information businesses, such as coaches, consultants, trainers, publishers, course creators, influencers, and the like. That structure looks like this:
Create a universe of at least 10,000 people that know who you are.
From that, have at least 10% of them — 1,000 people — buy something, anything from you.
From that, have another 10% — a mere 100 people — that purchase your highest priced products and services.
No matter what kind of business you have, you can apply this strategy to your business. In doing say, it provides a way for you to stay focused on the end goal. It makes it easier to plan your marketing campaigns, execute on business development processes, and grow faster.
Any business, of any size, in any industry, can use.
Some examples, off the top of my head:
A B2B SaaS startup providing a CRM solution to construction contractors needs only 10,000 people to attend their free training webinars, then 1,000 people to purchase a simple marketing tool, then 100 people to purchase the full product suite. As a startup aiming for hockey stick growth, this isn’t where this company stops, but it’s an excellent first stage goal that informs process.
A small accounting practice, with a single CPA and a few admin staff, only needs 10,000 people in a small corner of their city to receive their direct mail campaign, and 1,000 of those people to become basic tax prep clients, then 100 of this people to become financial planning clients. That is a business that literally grosses over $1 million per year, which is excellent for that size of accounting firm.
A graphic designer that has a full-time day job starts a freelancing side hustle, creating logos for new businesses. Working on sites like Fiverr and Upwork, selling low-cost logo design to 1,000 businesses and then upselling 100 of them to ongoing design packages, creates a really nice five- or six-figure income stream.
So figure out how to build a list (10k), sell them something small (1,000 fans), then upsell the best customers to your higher priced offerings (100). It’s a simple, yet profound, business development paradigm.
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