Business Combustion: How The 1% Spark Lights The 100% Flame

MP900305872“A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark” – Dante Alighieri

It’s amazing what a spark can do.

That concept was reinforced with me on 3 different occasions in the past week – in 3 different business situations.   When something is banged up against your head that many times in a week, it stands to reason that the universe is trying to tell me something.

(Or, at the very least, give me a strong hint about my next blog post.)

The “spark”, as translated to the business world, is best expressed as a number (lest I start counseling people to carry around matches).

One percent.

I’ll take it one step further, and then give you the 3 examples:

“Make just 1% love you, and when I say love, I mean head over heels love, and amazing things will happen”

Example #1:  Marketing maven and author Jackie Huba was in Portland this past week to do a presentation about her latest book, “Monster Loyalty“.   The book was about Lady Gaga, and Jackie detailed the key strategies that the pop singer has used to build such a fanatical follower base.

One of these strategies was “Focus on the one percenters” (thanks Jackie for nailing the concept for me).   Lady Gaga spends most of her promotional time on just 1% of her fan base.  Why? Because those 1% are the “sparks” that spread her message, over and over and over again.

That marketing strategy has certainly paid off for her, as her fame (39 million Twitter followers) and album sales (23 Million) attest.

Example #2:  I’m an angel investor here in Portland, and the one phrase I hear a lot in the pitch sessions is “proof of concept”- that is, to attract attention, a startup needs to demonstrate the real potential for rapid growth.     Our fund recently made an investment in a company that did it, but on a lot smaller scale than what convential wisdom would have thought.   How small?   You guessed it, 1%.

They found and nurtured a small group of all their product users that became so attached, and so in love, with it, that when we called these customers as part of our due dilgence, they couldn’t stop gushing about it in terms that gave us the clear impression that the spark had been lit.  The “flame”, in this instance, a good sized Angel investment, soon followed.

Example #3:  I’ve been deep in editing my leadership book (more on that soon, I promise), and so this week I had been thinking a lot about the strategies I had used in my company to build an atmosphere of trust that helped our company to attain consistent double-digit growth and an eventual high investment return.    As I was re-reading some of the narrative it dawned on me that I too had focused on the one percent – that is, in the first couple of years I had “chosen” about 10-15 key employees (out of 1,000) in the field that I determined to be the key influencers, and spent a lot of time winning them over.

Once we did, it created quite a domino effect that made the rest of the task a lot easier, and we hit a critical mass of trust that made a huge difference in our success.

It’s amazing what a spark will do.

And, in SO many business contexts!

Keep this concept squarely in mind in your business, and create a mighty flame of your own.

Lead well!





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