In his dependably brief and insightful blog, marketing guru Seth Godin writes about this video of a spontaneously developing community at a dance festival: “My favorite part happens just before the first minute mark. That’s when guy #3 joins the group. Before him, it was just a crazy dancing guy and then maybe one other crazy guy. But it’s guy #3 who made it a movement. Initiators are rare indeed, but it’s scary to be the leader. Guy #3 is rare too, but it’s a lot less scary and just as important. Guy #49 is irrelevant. No bravery points for being part of the mob.
“We need more guy #3s.”
There are lots of lessons you can take away from this. The one it most illustrates for me has to do with starting a business or launching a new product. More than once I’ve found myself dealing with a leading-edge product that I thought was brilliant. Too often, the response from the target market was, “Interesting. We’ll wait and see.”
The first copycat to come out with a similar product validates it, and makes it easier to sell. The next competitor helps flip the switch among customers from “wait and see” to “hurry up and buy.”
One’s an innovator; two’s competition; three’s a movement.