Basically every idea, product, series, etc. that has taken off like wildfire—or like the epidemic Gladwell calls it—has a tipping point when it first begins to spread. By understanding why this happens, we can potentially create our own tipping points.
The three theories Gladwell puts forth, with many interesting examples to demonstrate them, are—
- The Law of the Few: the "who" part of the equation; it takes the special skills of the connector (people broker), maven (idea broker), or salesperson (influencer) to spread ideas to enough people and in such ways that they then spread it to others.
- The Stickiness Factor: the "what" part of the equation; making the content of the message memorable is crucial to the tipping point and sometimes a small tweak is all that's necessary to make something "stick."
- The Power of Context: the "how" or "where" part of the equation; extenuating circumstances and how/where a message is delivered is as important as the other two factors and sometimes the difference between success and failure.
Some of the examples he shares are—
- Sesame Street and Blues Clues, which became successes despite being so different than what psychologists of the time thought should work with pre-schoolers;
- NY crime taking a drastic downturn because subway graffiti and fare-beating were stopped; and
- Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood becoming a runaway bestseller when the author's first book barely made a blip.
The book was definitely fascinating reading and gave me lots of food for thought, but for an entrepreneur with limited resources to do in-depth testing on how to make my message more sticky or in what context it works best, I haven't figured out how to apply this as of yet. I'll definitely be paying attention to any connectors/mavens/salespeople I come across though.
Have you been able to create your own tipping point? Or have you seen one created and if so, how?