People keep saying that success is a numbers game. I do not think it means what they think it means.
Unless they mean that success is a numbers game like Numberwang– a totally senseless arbitration of numbers, flying back and forth humorously as we all rush to shout out our best guess in the hopes that maybe this time we got it right.
In which case, they’re right. Success is totally Numberwang.
On the off-chance that they mean that success is easier to achieve when thousands upon thousands of people are tossed your way, then no. Success isn’t (generally speaking) a number’s game. It’s not a quantity game– it’s a quality game.
There are exceptions of course. Short-term successes, for instance, rely heavily on turning consumers/customers/readers/clients into statistics because they do not have a particular demographic.
You would have never heard of these wonders if it was wasn’t for media throwing all their statistic-shaped people at the product:
I’m not saying that being put in front of tens of thousands of people wouldn’t be good for your business, or blog, or book. Of course it would. In a crowd of ten thousand, no matter how you scooped them up, you’re sure to have at least a few handfuls of people who really want to support what you’re offering.
Opportunities to address tens of thousands are few and far between, though– and in the same amount of time it takes to wrangle and win those chances– you could have individually sought out and found those dozen supporters for the same end result.
In other words, it’s only a numbers game if you don’t know who your audience is and what your goal is.
If you know that you want to build a blog where you regularly receive a dozen comments on each post, then you have your goal. If you know that people are more likely to leave comments on a blog post that they empathize with, gain value from, or can contribute insight to, then you’ve solved a piece of the puzzle. If you know what you write, and who it appeals to, then you know your demographic.
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So let’s say you have a blog that is all about fashionable hats. By reviewing your posts, you realize that you primarily focus on flamboyant women’s hats. Most of your commenting readers are women in the fashion industry, of a certain age.
The simple step to achieving your dream? Find more of your target audience.
You don’t need a pulpit in front of tens of thousands to do that.
In fact, being televised, or being Freshly Pressed, or spending time guest blogging, or contributing to outside websites that don’t fit your demographic may not help at all. I’d love to have a post about fabulous hats here. I love hats, in fact.
But I can tell you right now that though I hope my readers would show you love, and pop over for some hugs, they probably won’t stick around. It isn’t personal, but Rarasaur readers (as a whole) aren’t overly concerned with the edicts of fashion. Plus, a good deal of my readers are men who do not wear fashionable ladies hats. Also, quite a few of us are naked.
Now if that same blog theme focused less on the fashion of hats, and more on the nostalgia or humor of them– then, yes, this would be a great place to guest post. My readers won’t stick around for tips on what to wear to the races. Most of them are too busy to go to horse races because they’re fixing computers, mowing lawns, making scarves, traveling, or picketing horse races– but, they’d stop by to aww appropriately at Sophia Loren in all her hatted glory and hear her thoughts on beauty.
Obviously, your blog probably isn’t about hats, and this little blog isn’t anywhere near a soapbox that reaches tens of thousands– but I hope you get my point.
This goes for businesses, books, services, and even friendships. It’s why every self-help book in the world starts with three basic questions. If you answer the first two questions, you’ve answered the third:
- What do you want?
- Who do you need on board to make it happen?
- How do you make it happen?
Once you’ve determined your target audience, the next steps are simple, too:
- Find all their haunts and hiding places — do your research, and be as specific as possible. It’s nice to know that your demographic uses Pinterest. It’s better to know they participate in #ThrowbackThursday there.
- Find out what makes them love something — chances are, it’s something you already do, but you can emphasize it so that it’s more obvious to them.
So often, people say this advice doesn’t apply because they aren’t in business– but as I’ve mentioned before, you are a brand in and of yourself.
This “business advice” is the same strategy that you probably employ it in many other areas of your life without thinking about it at all.
You probably have a dog park that you prefer, or a coffee shop, or a grocery store. It’s probably not your only option, but because you know what you want out of your experience, and you know what type of people are needed to make that experience happen– you direct yourself to the most likely area to find them and you present yourself appropriately.
It’s also not catering to the crowd, anymore than having your checkbook ready is catering to your grocery store– it’s just doing your part to make your experience the sort you want. If you have to rustle through your purse to find it, the Rarasaur behind you will be stomping and breathing fire and the cashier will give you a dirty look. If it’s out, the Rarasaur behind you will smile and wish you happy, and so will the cashier.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is numberwang.
When was the last time you wrote a check at a grocery store? Have you ever seen the Numberwang skit? It makes me a little cross-eyed because my mind tries to make a connection between the numbers.