You know that one time you stumbled upon that ice cream shop, tucked away on a path you'd just happened to take on a whim? It was the smell that lured you in. That intoxicating scent of sugar and butter that transported you to childhood with a single whiff: waffle cones, made from scratch. You wandered inside, the scene warm and inviting.
For once, you knew exactly what flavor you wanted. The nostalgic decor, the kind face behind the counter, the swirls of creamy color beneath the glass, told you anything you choose can't be wrong; this place seemed to exist solely for your pleasure, conjured up from your own imagination. You floated outside in a reverie, one generously-scooped cone in hand, realizing you'd just experienced something rare and special.
Your first thought? Tell everyone you know about it.
Your second thought? Keep it all to yourself.
It is curious that we enjoy being the first to discover something good and share it with others. Perhaps because it further establishes what we'd like to believe: that we have excellent taste, a singular talent for spotting diamonds in the rough, an eye for quality. Yet at the same time, we have a tendency to hoard our treasures. We are greedy, selfish. We know good things are easily "ruined" once they become popular. So we are torn between the desire to proclaim (and thus claim) our find, and the instinct to squirrel it away.
That ice cream shop, the acorn dropped serendipitously at our feet and stashed deep in the hole of a tree, is the product I want to build.
Something a person feels they are the first to discover. Something they appreciate so much they want to keep it to themselves. A product they inevitably recommend to their closest friends, because despite how much they want to, it's just too good to keep to themselves. (Which is imperative here, lest the company quickly go out of business).
There's a beauty to this intimate word-of-mouth growth strategy. People who discover your product hold it so dearly, they'll whisper it only to those they know will value their recommendation (those most likely to use, appreciate and love your product). And those people will, in turn, do the same.
What follows is a beautiful chain of quality recommendations. People who align so deeply with your product, they ensure the value and existence of it.
The growth of your audience might be slower this way, but it will be far more qualitative – and that much better for the next person who discovers for the first time.
Hi, I'm Tobias, a German designer living in New York. I'm the author of this blog, nice to meet you!