Pareto, Long Tail, and 1,000 True Fans
Pareto, Long Tail, and 1,000 True Fans
  • Roh Jihoon
  • 승인 2010.03.24 10:18
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▲ Roh Jihoon / IME05
The Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. According to Pareto’s observation, business management thinker Joseph M. Juran suggested what he called the Pareto Principle. The principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. We are still living with the Pareto Principle, and this phenomenon is going to become more polarized combined with technology and economic development. For instance, based on the World Bank’s statistics of 2008 gross domestic products (GDP), the summation of the top-twenty countries’ GDP, $43.45 trillion, is over 8 % of the total world GDP.

As a smaller percentage of organizations causes more, a much larger percentage of organizations come into existence. Chris Anderson, the editor of Wired Magazine, has studied polarization, and finally in 2006 published the book, “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More”. According to Wikipedia, “The long tail is a retailing concept describing the niche strategy of selling a large number of unique items in relatively small quantities. When the costs of inventory storage and distribution fall, a wide range of products becomes available as well as the most popular products. For example, people generally would like to tour the world’s foremost places like Paris, Roma, and New York for holidays. However, the hidden places keep being discovered and well known as the brand-new visited spots as more the cost get cheap and more the tourists become sophisticated.

“On the strength of the rapid rate, the openness, and the wireless of the internet, the long tail shows marked progress especially in the World Wide Web. In other words, some of the most successful internet businesses include eBay, Amazon, and iTunes Store have leveraged the long tail as part of their business. Those successful internet businesses design in common the place based on web as a platform for whipping of the long tail.”

From now on, it’s possible that a single person can afford to unleash his or her own idea whenever and wherever. Also if the idea is remarkable, people are willing to sneeze it out for free. Furthermore, social network services like Facebook and Twitter help the idea to spread out easily and make a buzz. Therefore, even though the number of 1% was a tiny quantity in the past, today’s 1% is able to grow up as much as possible. Kevin Kelly, the founding executive editor of Wired Magazine, said there is a break-even point for a lot of creators, such as individual artists, producers, and inventors, standing on one spot of the long tail. The break-even point is to find 1,000 True Fans. A true fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. For instance, they will drive 200 miles to join openings. They bookmark the eBay page where an out-of-print edition shows up. They can’t wait till the next work. They are true fans.

According to Seth Godin, the author of ten books including “Purple Cow”, 1000 true fans is enough to change the world. For example, 1000 true fans each spending $1,000 on a special interest cruise equals a million dollars. And 1000 true fans willing to spend $250 to attend a day-long seminar gives the leverage to invite just about anyone you can imagine to fly in and speak. Also, 1000 true fans voting as a bloc can change local politics forever. As Seth Godin mentions, organizing 1000 true fans is more profitable than yelling at random strangers all day.

It has been more than 10 years since management consultant Tom Peters first issued the book “The Brand You 50”. Now we are living under the best of conditions for working with our own brands. One thousand is a feasible number. You could count to 1,000. If you added one fan a day, it would take only three years. And therefore if you have a stunning idea or project, feel free to release it and try to organize your 1,000 followers with useful networking tools. Finally, you will have the power to contribute effectively to the world.

Roh Jihoon
IME 05