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Aiming for the Edges & Building Trust (Reading Notes 8.17.18)

Resource: Aim for the edges.


Interesting observations by Sivers here. He talks about how niche markets have become the new centers of influence because of the abundance of options we now have. In the 1960’s, for instance, commanding the attention of 50% of television viewers was a big deal. Now it only takes 1% of those viewers to be just as big of a deal. Sivers argues that being mainstream in the “old school” sense is not only unnecessary but that it’s unwise to even pursue it anymore. Because audiences aren’t told what to watch or listen to by a few small networks, the concept of “mainstream” has radically altered. Mainstream now means you’re successfully connecting with niche audiences whole will rant and rave over your content.

“Aim for the edges” Sivers advises. If you try to create art that appeals to everyone, you’ll end up with something that’s too boring to appeal to anyone.


“An amazing shift has happened in the last few decades. You used to get successful by being normal and mainstream. But now you have a better chance of getting successful by being remarkably unusual. Songwriters try to write a timeless standard that will resonate with everyone. But what good is that if nobody hears it because your music is too normal?”

“Our culture is now split into niches. In 1948, Milton Berle’s TV show had 80% of all viewers, because it was one of only three choices! When the Beatles played on Ed Sullivan in 1964, they had 60% of all TV viewers. But now the biggest hit shows only get 1% of all viewers, because there are so many choices.”

“There won’t be another blockbuster album like “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. With unlimited options now, music fans don’t wait for mainstream media to tell them what to like. They can immediately listen to anything they want. Because of this, tastes are more spread-out than ever.”

“So reach the people who have headed to the edges. They’re the ones who are looking for something new, and more likely to rave about it if you impress them. Think of the metaphor of shooting an arrow at a bull’s-eye target: In the old blockbuster music business, you had a hit single or nothing. The only way you could be successful was to hit the exact center of a tiny distant target. If you missed the middle, you got nothing. Now it’s like the target is closer and bigger, but there’s a catch: Someone cut out the middle. So be remarkably unusual, and aim for those people who have headed to the edges.”

Resource: The problem with coming attractions


I need to weigh this one some more, but my initial understanding is that Seth is saying we shouldn’t pressure ourselves to give away the product for too cheap as a way of protecting ourselves from the possibility of a disappointed customer. The way to win trust isn’t by lowering expectations, but by raising them and delivering them?


“…the hard work of creating tension and then delivering on it–that’s where our best path lies. It requires trust, not proof, and the patience to find an audience that cares enough to work with you to get to where they’d like to go.”

“If someone insists on experiencing your experience before you give them the experience, it’s really unlikely you’re going to be able to delight them.”

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