80/20 Marketing Is Like Herding Cattle

In his book The Practice, Seth Godin writes:

How is it possible for three cowboys to herd a thousand cattle?

Easy. They don’t.

They herd ten cattle, and those cattle influence fifty cattle and those cattle influence the rest.

When creating a marketing strategy for a new project, it’s easy to forget about this simple fact. We overcomplicate things so much we end up wasting time on busywork.

We need to be present on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn. Oh, and let’s also test TikTok, Pinterest, Medium, and Quora.

In the end, instead of finding the first ten fans, we find ten platforms. We congratulate ourselves on a task well done: nicely designed profiles with sleek social media icons we put on our website. Now we’re a real business! Now we can start obsessing and bragging about our follower counts.

But we mistake platforms, a recent invention, for people.

You can have a successful business without social media platforms. Ask most B2B businesses in “boring” industries.

You can’t have a successful business without people—the true fans with whom you interact and who support you.

Choose one place where you can interact with people who may like your work. Focus on depth over breadth. Find ten fans by being helpful and valuable. Amaze them, not the algorithms. Then ask to spread the message. Rinse and repeat.