The Hidden Brain podcast The Snowball Effect explored what makes new ideas stick, whether it’s a meme going viral or social movements and trends becoming mainstream. Talking with sociologist Damon Centola about his new book Change: The Power in the Periphery to Make Big Things Happen, the episode noted it’s not often a famous person or influencer’s endorsement that creates traction. Rather, adoption by a smaller but tighter group of people whose individual behavior change is reinforced within their group creates deeper traction for the idea. This small group of dedicated converts is more visible, inspiring a broader audience (and frankly, influencers who want to be seen in the lead of trends) to join the movement.
Similar principles apply to positioning for a brand. Trying to get a broad group of customers to buy into your proposition makes it hard to gain momentum. Instead, consider which smaller, connected group you can target with your product and message to get deeper and more visible adoption. That group might be geographically connected. Or connected via a common interest. Or share a common experience. Once that vanguard group is on board, you can then leverage their visible endorsement to prompt others to join in.