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Don’t stare yourself blind on trying to reach more people, because it always begins with just one extremely happy customer.

by JERRY SILVER // Twitter, Facebook, Instagram
Digital PR specialist and CEO at Spin Factory

Originally published on Idea Hunt.

Why is it good to be a “contrarian thinker” in marketing and PR?

In my day job, I help companies of all sizes to reach the right people and spark them into taking action.

With limited resources, new ventures must focus their marketing efforts. Growth hackers are wisely targeting one ‘low-hanging fruit’ after another to maximize momentum.

Entrepreneurs are building their MVPs (minimum viable products), testing for product/market fit, and when they have it, they scale using various growth tactics.

All good things, of course. And that’s how most startups are doing it.

So, why might it be a good idea to do the opposite?

More Traffic isn’t Always the Right Answer

I think Mark Twain1 said it best:

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.”

It’s easy to get stuck in this conventional type of marketing and PR thinking:

  • How do we get more traffic?
  • How can we convert more of that traffic?

Yes, it’s great to reach other people’s audiences by producing attention-grabbing content, and by launching urgent lead magnets to build your list. I do this, too.

Marketing may evolve fast, but people’s mental bandwidth is basically staying the same.

Here’s the thing:

When Just One Person is Enough

In theory, you only need to reach one other person, as long as that person becomes a customer for life and refers one other equally dedicated customer each month.

In one month, you will have one customer and in two months, you will have two. In three months, four. Then eight, then 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, and so on. And in a few short years, your company will be the biggest brand on Earth.

The math couldn’t be simpler:

2[number of months]

This type of thinking will move your brand away from:

How can we attract more traffic and increase our conversion rates throughout our funnel?

and closer to:

How can we transform each and every customer into life-long brand ambassadors?

Now, some of you might think, “yeah, customer service is really important.” However, earning true fans is more than just taking good care of your customers.

The Word-of-Mouth Litmus Test

Here’s a mental exercise to try:

Imagine two friends hanging out. One of them is a customer of yours, the other one has never heard of your product or service. In casual conversation, the friend who has never heard of your brand brings the very problem that you’re solving!

The other friend, who really wants to help his or her friend out, then says:

“I used to have that problem, too. You should really check out X, their product/service is really awesome!”

If the above scenario happens often enough, your brand will become a success. Growth, sales, and marketing, all of that won’t be your biggest challenges anymore. You’ll instead have to focus on hiring the right people!

Where to Always Start

In the above ideal scenario, customers will be referring other customers without your active involvement.

A great product or service is a must, yes. So is great free content and stellar customer service. And the value you offer must address a real, urgent need that resonates with a large enough group.

And then there needs to be that little ‘extra’ something…

Hence, my no. 1 advice for startups starts with this:

Be a contrarian thinker! Don’t stare yourself blind on trying to reach more people, because it always begins with just one extremely happy customer.


  1. Long-time readers of this blog will probably recognize this quote; it’s a favourite of mine and I use it all the time.

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Behind the keyboard:

Jerry Silver is the author of Doctor Spin, a PR blog that's been around for 15+ years. His fascination for corporate communication and human psychology runs deep. Via his own agency Spin Factory, every day's spent on coaching people and organizations on how to adapt to a 'digital first' world. In 2016, Cision Scandinavia named him "PR Influencer of the Year". Jerry lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife Lisah, journalist and television host, and their two-year-old son, Jack.

Interested in Jerry’s services or speaking engagements? Learn more.

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