The 1000 True Fans (1KTF) theory was introduced in 2008 by Kevin Kelly. The basic idea is that you may be better off connecting with 1000 people who really, really, REALLY love your products than connecting with tons of people who are lukewarm about your stuff. It’s a cornerstone of content marketing.
who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version.
The rest of the definition explains that a true fan would spend 1 day’s wages on you and your stuff. Kevin uses $100 for nice, simple math.
Note: this was aimed at musicians, but applies to most industries.
The upside of 1KTF
Find 1000 people who love your product/service. Sell them $100 worth of said products/services. Make $100,000.
That’s more specific of a business plan than some entrepreneurs I’ve talked to.
$100 isn’t a ton of money
That’s what? $8.33 a month per fan. Damn! That’s even simpler.
1000 isn’t a ton of people
According to Google, there are 3.17 billion people on the internet.
You only need .0000315% of that.
You don’t need to be Bono to be successful.
It’s really Business 101
You make a product for a specific group (a tribe if you will) and you sell it to them.
The downside of 1KTF
1000 True Fans are hard to find
What’s the process? Stranger to curious outsider to fan to True Fan?
Let’s pretend that process is exactly the way it works. And let’s pretend that you have a 10% conversion rate at each step. (FYI: that’s absurdly high.)
How many strangers do you have to interact with to get 1000 True Fans?
1000 visitors would be 100 curious outsiders would be 10 fans would be 1 True Fan. Yeah, I set it up so the math was easy.
You need to 1000x it to get your 1KTF numbers. 1000 x 1000 is 1,000,000. That a million.
How are you going to get in front of 1 million people?
You have to have enough products to sell
What does $100 buy? Do you sell enough products for a True Fan to spend $100 on you?
You have to hit enough price points
If you’ve read 80/20 Sales and Marketing by Perry Marshall (and you should – click to buy it), you know that sales don’t happen in such a neat, streamlined pattern. Some will buy more. Some will buy less.
The True Fan spending the least will only spend about $21.50. The 1 spending the most will spend up to $8,200.00. If you dig into it, 16.7% of the group spends above average, offsetting the rest who spend below average.
Do you have a large enough variety of products and services to cover this spread of demands?
(Click here to play with the 80/20 Calculator. Be careful. You may get sucked in.)
It doesn’t accounts for cost
The theory focuses on what people will pay – the money that leaves their wallet. It says nothing about the money going into your wallet.
What is the overhead on your products and services? Hell, if this was all done through PayPal, PayPal would get $3,000 before you even started paying your bills.
It doesn’t account for groups
While the gig economy is growing, few businesses are 1 person operations. The 1KTF only works for 1 person.
But it’s easy to do the math and adjust.
Why the 1000 True Fans theory is the cornerstone of content marketing
I said all that downer stuff about the 1KTF theory so you don’t get blinded and sucked in by its seductive simpleness.
The 1KTF theory is a spark – a starting point for a bigger, better plan.
It isn’t as wrong as much as it’s incomplete. Here’s why it’s the cornerstone.
It’s about sales
Let’s break down what content marketing is.
Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers. – link
Aw come on! Using the words “content” and “marketing” in the definition! That’s just lazy.
Let me take a stab at it.
Content marketing is creating and sharing media that is entertaining, informative, or both in order to promote and sell stuff.
The 1KTF is about selling stuff to people who want it. And then selling them more.
Content marketing isn’t about making cool content. It’s about making money.
It’s about the <3% that really matter
The late Chet Holmes said that only 3% of people are ready right now to buy what you’re selling. You can find that gem in The Ultimate Sales Machine. (Buy it here.)
Let’s do some theoretical math: Chet Holmes x Perry Marshall.
Of your entire target market, 3% are ready to buy now.
Within that 3% of people there is a subset that is your tribe, your 1000 True Fans.
Within those 1000 fanatics, there are 167 above-average spenders.
Within the 167 above-average spenders, there are 28 way-above-average spenders.
And in that illustrious group, there are 4 people whose whims shape your entire budget.
Who are you making your content for?
Which group do you want to grow?
Do you want another $20 spender or another $200 spender or another $8000 spender?
What you can do right now
Develop your avatar
The most important thing you can do is to define your audience. And it ain’t easy. But done correctly, it makes pretty much every other aspect of your business work better.
It’s easier if you already have customer or clients. You can talk to them – yes, talk – and learn more about them
Fizzle has a course on Defining Your Audience. I thought it better served people with audiences to talk to, but it would be helpful to anyone looking to flesh out their customer avatar (or buyer persona or whatever you call it).
Here’s a link to get 2 weeks at Fizzle for free. If you don’t like it, cancel.
Develop a plan to serve your True Fans
After you develop your customer avatar, you need to talk to them more.
Find out why they like you and/or your product.
Find out their problems.
Find out where your products fell short.
This can be done in person, on the phone, via email, via survey. Your call. (That’s a joke, but if you’re going to do surveys, I recommend reading Ask by Ryan Levesque – link to buy).
And then develop products and services based on what you learned instead of by guessing.