Tiny is a mindset. Tiny means businesses that choose to stay intentionally small, impressively profitable, nimble, and intimately close — invaluable! — to their customers.
Tiny creator-businesses monetize through serving and mattering and being obsessed with customer happiness.
On the other side of the coin is another mindset — the obsession with growth, with scaling, with more eyeballs, with earning millions (or billions: the non-tiny companies chasing unicorns).
Which path you choose will have all sorts of downstream ripple effects, some obvious; but mostly invisible from the outset.
We need to reset our brains into thinking way (WAY) differently, way (WAY!) smaller. That’s not as easy as it sounds — 99% of us marketers have been wired (since the printing press and invention of advertising) to think the exact opposite of tiny. Screw tiny; bigger is better, buddy-boy:
- Growth (at all costs),
- Scale (out the wazoo),
- Millions! (no: billions!)
Looking at ads and landing pages each day makes me wanna cringe (and sometimes puke). I can smell the desperation. I can see the gamble they are taking, the clueless risks, the bet that will never return a row of cherries.
Screaming ads projected towards a 99% un-interested audience. Praying for “something” to (finally) work.
If something doesn’t work within 15 minutes, scream some more, but much louder this time — a different headline, a different image — but with zero empathy, and no resonance or connection with the audience at any level.
Not advertising — but “screamvertising!”
Loud and obnoxious.
Mine is better than yours — buy now, sucker.
Nobody cares enough anymore.
Marketers are too fixated on short-term revenue and near-instant ROI to consider downstream non-linear consequences. Long-term strategic thinking is as rare as the white rhino.
Audience empathy is at level-zero.
Too many marketers “screamvertising” the same type of message at the same non-interested audience.
Ad copy filled to the brim with “conversion optimizers” (the latest hot-off-the-press tactic) yet not selling a darned thing:
Dude, I got scarcity notifications and orange Belcher buttons all over the f*cking place. I used the latest funnel-software because “they” said it’s the only way to go. My headlines are in fat, bright red, point 88 font and have a bunch of exclamations marks and emojis.
… but no sales!
Just the chirp chirp of crickets.
Marketing is a scam, this shit don’t work!
It’s time for a rewind, a mindset shift from mass-thinking to tiny-thinking.
Seriously: press CTRL/Alt/Del on those infested gray cells. Fully unplug from what you “think” is the way to go. It might just save your sanity (as well as your wallet).
The Tiny is Mighty Way
SETH GODIN — The goal is to find a minimum lovable product, and a path to build on that:
- Find the smallest viable audience, the people you need and want to delight/change/serve.
- Figure what will resonate with them (easier said then done).
- Ship the work.
How about we strip down the confusing, super-blurry “marketing maze” to its bare necessities?
How about we drop all the technical mumbo-jumbo (alongside the 143-part video mega-courses) and focus only on the things THAT TRULY MATTER?
Your most important tools aren’t the latest gadget or tactic (shocker!). Truth is: only a few tools truly matter, and the essential tools are 100% free (and indispensable!) and only require emotional labor:
- Market-specific (practical) empathy,
- coupled with new insights,
- which you project — using story — onto the POP (audience) you’re seeking to resonate with and serve.
Some idea excerpts from the video above that map to what I’m talking about here; about what Tiny in Mighty means.
- 3m49s: minimum viable product vs. minimum lovable product…
- 8m10s: the riskiest think you can do is create average stuff for average people. Pay attention to the analogy of, “bringing magic to table 4,” and why that’s the safest thing to do…
- 12m20s: Sprezzatura — the Italian word for effortless care. Care that requires emotional labor; but opens up opportunities which are invisible to people seeking just “tactics”…
- 14m10s: the noise in our head, the noise in the head of the people we seek to serve — this is the intersection where empathy-led marketing is born from (to see the world as it is, to see that other people have their own narrative; and once you gain that empathy, you can serve better)…
- 22m09s: the opportunity — for tiny little creators businesses, and for businesses that transform into the likes of Airbnb and LinkedIn — is to not try and be everything to everyone, but to try and be important (invaluable!) to a very small group of people…
- (I’ll leave the rest for you to explore.)
Let’s go with an example here that can easily be translated into a real-life situation (and applied to any market; especially competitive ones).
Hypothetical Example: How to Enter & Compete in a Hyper-Competitive Market
Let’s say you want to sell supplements to a dedicated bodybuilder crowd.
It’s a hyper-competitive market, so clearly you can’t half-ass this. It’s a POP that deeply understands what they need, to achieve the results they are after (in other words: the level of market sophistication is high; a level 5).
Regurgitated same-same information is not going to fly. So unless you want your ass handed to you — you either need to enter the field of play with a huge bankroll, or you need to apply some creative thinking to your marketing.
We’re all smart marketers here, so let’s go with the creative route. When you discover a NEW way of bringing awareness to this group of passionate peeps, dynamics will shift (pretty much guaranteed).
Let’s look at a “tiny” way of approaching a problem like this (this next bit is important, so pay attention!).
Entering a market already filled to the brim with information and products out the wazoo poses a challenge for many mass-thinking-marketers. Their approach is usually very generic and not aimed at any specific POP aside from the hyper-obvious one, which is … well … bodybuilders.
The approach can be two-fold:
The first approach is common and considered “good practice.” Create a product for a market you understand and are willing to serve beyond what your competition does (read: same, but better).
That’s a neat way of starting a new business — but expect some backlash. Don’t be surprised if the ride is a little bumpy. It can get muddy if you play in the same shark infested pool as every other bodybuilder product creator.
It “can” work — it does for many — but you better be dang awesome and refreshing with your offer (and have a bankroll to burn through and buddies to promote the bejesus out of your shiny-new-offer).
You’re setting yourself up for an uphill battle doing it this way.
It will be hard work unless your offer is unexpected and NEW (note: big ideas have a relatively short half-life). Understand that you’re competing in a super-crowded market place with a never-ending supply of different products already out there and selling, and more (“new”) offers flooding in all the time.
You vs. every bodybuilding guru with years of street cred under their belts and a Rolodex full for promo partners? You better come up with some major-mojo or prepare to pack up and run for the hills.
You can “elbow” your way in, but — shit — why would you waste time on that if there is a much simpler way that eliminates all of the competition (and market bias) in one fell swoop, just by reversing your approach?
I understand your eagerness to dive in head-first and start “screamvertising” your message at everybody that’s even remotely interested in bodybuilding. I get it because, in a way, it makes sense.
What if we take what we know about the bodybuilding market and — using that knowledge — put together an awareness-building approach for a completely different POP, that would also (highly) benefit from the results?
Confused? No need, just read on…
Every day hundreds of thousands of women across the globe give birth to a new baby. It’s a safe and ever-expanding market (in other words: infinitely scalable).
Marketers in this market do the same “screamvertising” — human behavior is universal and predictable. New moms are exposed to baby insurance ads, ads for diaper subscriptions, formula, baby clothes, accessories, and a thousand other things.
New moms get buried in “baby specific” ads. Meaning: it’s all about their babies, not necessarily for them (dunno about you, but I smell an opportunity).
What about their needs, though?
What is mom dealing with?
What is on her mind?
What internal (emotional) struggles could she be struggling with that needs addressing?
It turns out that a large percentage of women suffer from “loose bellies” after giving birth. Makes sense, right? You can’t stretch something out for nine months and then expect it to magically snap-back into place.
Stretch marks, floppy belly due to relaxed ab muscles, loose skin; you get the idea.
Postpartum moms don’t want stretch-marks or floppy belly.
Sure, it’s not necessarily a number one concern (although for a lot of moms, it’s right up there with oxygen), but it will be a definite “thorn in the side” that they’re always aware of and would love to have solved.
Make no mistake: mom’s “floppy belly” is top of mind, always talking to her, whispering in her ear. It stars back at her each time she looks into the evil full-height mirror after every shower or bath.
If an interesting (and exciting) solution passes her eyes, her attention will snap into focus like a tractor-beam. ZAP!
Strengthening and tightening muscles happen the same for bodybuilder wannabes as it does for postpartum moms.
Bodybuilders fully expect to be hit around the ears with muscle-strengthening products and information. Your story and hook will need to be extraordinarily NEW and “sexy” for that POP take any notice of your (“yet another distraction fighting for attention”) message.
On the other hand: nobody is talking to new moms about this, even though she has a problem which needs solving.
In other words: when you prep your message/hook/angle to talk to postpartum moms instead of the bodybuilders, you pretty much eliminate all direct competition. You level the playing field from day-one, BECAUSE THERE IS NO PLAYING FIELD. Think of this as a version of a Blue Ocean Shift.
You created the market because you spotted the opportunity. You serve an unserved audience that is begging to be served. Compare that to the (expensive) trip you were about to take into the competitive shark-infested waters of bodybuilders.
Don’t get me wrong here, new moms are being hammered with offers because of their new baby, but your offer is completely different. It’s for her.
It’s NEW and, … they want (and need) the result — badly!
New moms understand (at a fundamental level) what the words “bodybuilding” mean. Muscles and big dudes with rock hard abs (the exact thing she lacks).
By narrowing your focus and audience — going tiny — you get to tell a different story. A unique story that offers depth and nuance; a story that she wants to tell herself.
You use all the stuff you learned from the bodybuilding world, and create something that NOW will help HER to get rid of an emotionally painful problem.
If mom’s problem doesn’t get addressed, she will be burdened with a low self-image, often feeling shame and self-doubt, for the rest of her life. No woman wants that or deserves that.
By not going for the obvious choice, you’ve made it so much easier for yourself to get a shot at succeeding right from the get-go.
Coming from a completely different angle (tiny positioning), you present a specific solution (minimum lovable product) to a tiny but desperate POP (smallest viable audience), which will instantly get noticed (attention in a distracted world), and will resonate on a deep emotional level (empathy-led marketing).
You can apply this (creative) thinking to any market.
Meet Peter Spaepen
This is how we, as tiny creators, get noticed in an ever-noisy world and delight, change and serve an audience. It’s how we create happy customers; superfans.
Looking at both POP’s and approaches above (mass vs. tiny), where would you rather play?
Tiny isn’t for everyone, but it might be for you.
If you answered mass, then it’s time to bounce. Close this page, move along. What we have won’t be of interest to you.
If you answered tiny, we’re on the same page. Let’s go deeper down the rabbit hole.
I’ve had a tiny little creator business for 18 years. A tiny little business that has earned millions of dollars and created tens of thousands of (happy) customers.
Tiny is mighty. 💪
It’s time to introduce you to a long-time friend, Peter Spaepen.
I met Peter in 2008, a 6 foot 8 Belgian who had a fondness for waffles. We hit it off instantly. We both saw the role of marketing in the same weird “tiny” way. We had shared worldviews.
Peter has run businesses like the one mentioned above for the last 16 years, always outside the norm, never going for the obvious.
Focusing on much smaller audiences with a clear path drawn out to achieve customer success. Avoiding (eliminating) competition and creating “communication paths” that bring NEW and exciting offers to an unserved POP.