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10. The Tipping Point for Small Business

Previous blogs have explored some of Malcolm Gladwell’s ideas. What can a small business learn from Gladwell?


  1. Focus on identifying the Connectors (the people who know everyone and are pro-active referrers), the Mavens (the experts, the people who are used as the reference point by others in any particular context) and Salesmen (the convincers) in your business environment. It is their opinions and actions which will make the difference, not simple numbers. It is not just networking, but networking with the right people – whether face-to-face or on-line.
  2. Non-verbal clues are often more important than verbal; the way you communicate can be more important than the what – Gladwell gives an interesting example of the effect in a presidential election of an interviewer’s positive body language to one candidate compared with another and its effect on audience response and ultimately votes. Make sure your enthusiasm for your customers and your ability to help them shines through in every aspect of what you do, and it will be projected not just in your words.
  3. Look carefully at all your communications – verbal, visual and written – to make your message ‘sticky’. What is the trigger that will hold their attention and capture their imagination? Does your communication involve them and drive them to action, or just inform? A good place to start is your ‘elevator pitch’, the short description of what you offer. If you do not have a strong enough message, is the problem that your offer is not strong enough? How can you make that more remarkable? (See previous blogs on Seth Godin and the Purple Cow)
  4. Think about the context of your messages and how you can affect this to make your message work. This might, for instance, mean taking your message out of the mainstream and targeting some specific group where it is most meaningful and will stand out most. It may mean making sure your message appears in time and place where it is most relevant, most likely to lead to action.

The Tipping Point can often be achieved by concentrating limited resources on a few key areas – the reduction in New York crime is a classic example. What are the key areas and who are the key people for your business? Make things tip in your favour.