If you want to reach a wider market share, stop focusing on reaching a wider market share. Forget the days of mass media, mass marketing, mass anything. Today, it’s all about small. We’re not necessarily talking about niche marketing or small scale marketing as you know it — though that’s part of the picture — we’re talking about having a bigger impact with a smaller focus.


Marketing leader Seth Godin calls them “Sneezers,” early adopter customers who will be so excited about your product or service that you can reliably count on them to get others interested as well. These are the taste makers, the trendsetters.

These are the people who picked up Talking Heads’ first albums and said to their friends “You gotta listen to these guys.” These are the people who were celebrating Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” decades before the critics stopped attacking it as a worthless, confusing mess of a film. You can’t sell without selling to these people anymore, and you can’t sell to these people with products for everyone.

Special Stuff for Special People

Appealing to the most powerful sneezers, the bloggers who review video games for a living, the rock stars whose fans will buy the same equipment as them, can only be done with special products, special service, special apps and ideas. Forget “good enough,” forget “better.” How are you going to produce something that inspired outliers love?

First of all, you need to forget that old saying “Will it play in Peoria?” The only way to play in Peoria is to leave behind all the people who can make your brand a success. Peoria will come around if Slash uses your guitar pick. Peoria will come around if Stephen King loves your book.

It’s Not About Celebrity

If what you’ve taken away from this so far is “Get a celebrity endorsement,” then we’ve both failed. It’s not about getting a name attached to your product, it’s about finding trusted voices within various communities and creating something that works for them.

If you’re thinking in terms of celebrity endorsements, think in terms of earning unpaid celebrity endorsements. What would it take for J.K. Rowling to give your writing software a rave review? What would it take for the most demanding audiophiles to love your stereo equipment? Earn your celebrity endorsements by putting out something that the most educated, trustworthy members of your market are already looking for, whether they realize that that’s what they want or not.

It’s not about getting famous names on your brand, it’s about getting trusted voices on your side.

The concept of getting your message to spread by appealing to the most trusted outliers isn’t a new one. It’s been happening since well before the first time a film producer focus tested with a respected critic before releasing a film. However, now, in the era where the mass market is dead, where mass media doesn’t work like it used to, the fact is that those who can appeal to the right people will reap greater benefits than those who can appeal to more people. Marketing now is about the quality, not quantity, of connections made.