the potential in the 10%

Posted on September 10th, 2011 at 5:31 pm by @uberblond


according to this article, once 10% of the population picks up on something, the majority quickly follows. there’s a few conditions to it – the 10% have to be unwavering, the majority need to be at least open to the idea – but even with those conditions it’s an interesting threshold to think about when approaching change.

I’m thinking back to times when we were looking for target markets to embrace a change, either in the way they fundamentally perceive a brand or in behaving differently via a product (I’m leaving out the instances when I’ve worked on assignments where we asking an entrenched target market to try a new variant or buy x more of the existing product in a time frame).

we’ve all seen it happen in the quarterly-earnings, insta-success-measurement paradigm that we’re a part of – we ask people to undergo a shift, and if 30% of the target market doesn’t undergo that shift in the first two weeks of the communications cycle, it’s deemed a failure. brand managers freak, creatives get thrown into another round of development and yet another cycle of Preview ensues so we can safely get that comm into the upper right box by pleasing the vast majority of the survey-takers (fyi, I hate Preview, I hate Milward Browne. I thought you should all be aware of this writer’s bias).

but how much more interesting would the upfront conversations be (and ensuing strategies and tactics) if they went something like this?

let’s think longer term. I know our target universe is 6 million, but let’s focus on getting 600,000 to really get it, embrace it (and we’ll use x as a measurement of what embracing it means) in this time frame.

basically, (re)define or more tightly define what success is on assignments like that.

10% success is still a huge metric to obtain and the depth of commitment from that 10% needs to be deep for the resulting effect to happen. but I would argue that it’s a smart investment if this theory holds. it’s making the transition happen from short term sales jump change (which is of course sometimes needed) to phenomena change via the brand, which surely has more return in the long term.

what gets me psyched about focusing on this 10% threshold is that the strategies and work would get so much more interesting; focus is crack for good idea junkies.

but this isn’t just about creative crack – I’m willing to bet that focus like this is also crack for ROI and would be much more efficient in two ways: 1) we’re bringing in the sharp-shooters, not the carpet bombers. less initial waste in spend. 2) if seeded properly, the phenomena will take on a life of its own, and propagation won’t have to be bought, it will be earned.

how cool would it be to lead a brief with this?
objective: make 10% of our target market love us (and ignore the rest for now or cover remaining with another stream of tactics/communications)

investigate for the 10%, build strategy for it, create for it, measure for it and then, once it’s rolling, ride and expand the phenomena.