A business school’s definition of a market would be something like: “the total of all the buyers and sellers in a specific region where you want to sell your products or services.” A region can be the entire world, countries, states, cities or zip codes. A market can be just about anything you want it to be.
For example, if you sell enterprise security software, your market is IT decision makers (ITDMs). This group is very important to your business. They are the ones making decisions on whether to purchase your software or go with one of your competitors. Your market might also include media and technology journalists because they influence the ITDM purchase process based on what they say, write and share. Overall, this is a pretty targeted market.
Pepsi’s market would be exponentially larger. Depending on where you live, you’ll notice that its advertising targets different groups of people — millennials active on social media and young families, especially if you live in a coastal city. Its market also includes health-conscious consumers, if you consider its healthier brands like Aquafina and Kobe’.
On the other hand, if you sell yoga pants and have two retail locations — one in Santa Clara and the other in Palo Alto (both in Silicon Valley) — your market is much smaller. It may consist of affluent consumers in these very specific zip codes who are yoga enthusiasts, drive a Tesla or just love to wear comfy yoga pants around town and in the workplace.
While markets can be simple, they can also be extremely complex. Imagine how segmented a market can be from a political perspective if you consider candidates running for office at the city, county, state and country level. There are several markets and micro-markets that overlap.
Using The 1:9:90 Model To Segment The Market
One of the earliest references to the 1:9:90 model was in 2006 by Charles Arthur, who suggested that “if you get a group of 100 people online then one will create content, 10 will ‘interact’ with it (commenting or offering improvements) and the other 89 will just view it.”
Since then, there have been numerous iterations of market dynamics, influence and how content is created, shared and packaged across the internet. Since 2011, I have been thinking deeply about this subject and have refined the following definitions for each group representing the 1:9:90 model.
- The 1%: These are the top influencers, opinion leaders and content creators. They move the market when they speak, write, Tweet or publish just about anything. There are almost never more than 50-100 people driving the majority of conversation share for any specific topic. They can create new markets. They can launch new product categories. This group used to consist only of traditional media and journalists. Today, you can throw just about anyone in this category depending on the market.
- The 9%: These are enthusiasts who are proficient in using social media. They’re highly active online and spend most of their time on social networks. They recommend products, restaurants, coffee shops, clothing — you name it. They share their brand experiences with their networks, whether good or bad. They sign up for newsletters, download content, comment on it and share it — any action that lets their community of peers know what they think.
- The 90%: This is the great majority of any market. They lurk and learn and consume content on the daily. This group is satisfied with using Google for discovering new products, reading reviews and consuming the content of their peers without contributing much to the conversation themselves. But don’t neglect them, as strength lies in numbers. They decide how compelling the 1% and the 9% really are in telling your brand’s story based on their purchase behavior.
The 1:9:90 model applies to any brand, large enterprise or small company. It’s important, though, to realize that each group requires a different marketing and communications approach. You can’t talk to an influencer the same way you would talk to a general consumer. While it might seem a little imbalanced, each of these groups plays a very significant role in the content machine. If you can positively engage with an influencer or group of influencers, you have the potential to reach the entire market.
The 1:9:90 Model In Action
Here’s a common scenario: You identify five to seven influencers in your space and partner with them to co-create a branded e-book that features their perspectives on the future of work and how technology plays a role in this evolution. You give each influencer full editorial control, brand it with your messaging and distribute it across your company’s digital channels: SlideShare, Twitter, LinkedIn, company blog, etc. You may also give the influencers the SlideShare embed code to make it easy for them to add the content to their personal profiles.
Next, a number of technology enthusiasts download the guide, read it and share it. Some may write a blog post mentioning the guide while adding their expert opinion. Others may decide to share it on Twitter or LinkedIn or just retweet the influencer.
Eventually, the rest of the market will decide whether or not to download the guide based on the perspectives of the 1% and 9%. They may refer to Google to get additional perspectives or ask their work colleagues.
Now, let’s say this e-book is highly successful and reaches thousands of potential customers. Not only is your brand indirectly endorsed by a third party, but you suddenly have the potential for a slew of new leads on the table. That’s the power of the 1:9:90 model.
Originally posted LinkedIn.