Seth Godin has harped on one idea over and over again in his books, his blog, his public speaking engagements and just about everywhere I’ve encountered him. That one idea is all you need are 1,000 true fans.
He has most often made the 1,000 true fans argument in relation to artists, but now he is applying it to business. I’m going to assume that he’s right and all you need is 1,000 true fans to “make it.” What does that really mean?
First, let’s define a true fan. Seth says a true fan is someone who buys everything you do. They aren’t samplers. They are devotees. If you carve your toenails then they are there to see it. They’re a “true fan.”
So let’s apply that to business. If you have 1,000 true fans for your business then these are the people who will buy your new product on the day it launches. If your product is a flying red widget that costs $2 to make and you charge $5 to purchase, that’s a $3,000 income for launch day. Can you survive on that?
You can survive for a month. But what about the next month? Those true fans aren’t going to buy your widget again, are they? You need more customers than 1,000.
What Seth Godin doesn’t tell you about 1,000 true fans is that you need to market your products and services to thousands of people more than that. If you assume a 1% “snag ratio” then you need to get your flying red widget in front of 100,000 people. Of course, not all of them are going to buy either. But somewhere between that 100,000 and that 1,000 true fan base you’ll find your true market. Those are the people who won’t buy everything you make, but who will buy something you make. Those are the people you’re really marketing to.
Your true fans aren’t going to perform a Google search to find you. They know where to find you. They have you bookmarked. It’s your true market that you need to reach out to and that requires a strategy. You build your search engine optimization strategy and your pay per click advertising strategy and your social media strategy around your true market. Your true fans are following your every move.