Posted by: Joe Hoffman | January 5, 2008

Why does it take so long?

The first week of the new year and the last week before the new class starts. The newest group will start on January 9th and finish up by March 19th but this week was really the fun time. I spoke to many of the enrolled students for the first time and with others who were still evaluating the process. Amazing stuff.

I find that my life gets a little recharge just from hearing people talk about their dreams and aspirations. The passion most have to move forward and become a success is almost palpable. Ideas are all over the place, some are a unique spin on an old theme, some are people completely changing th direction of their lives and others are of the “Why didn’t I think of that?” variety. Now comes the work of helping people really understand the problem of identifying the end user and how to reach them.

This might be a place to plug my favorite market model, the Bass Diffusion Curve. A wonderful discovery and articulation of the marketing problem. Today many people recognize it by the concept of “viral marketing” and that is probably the the very best description there is. Simply put, the spread of the virus or purchase of the product/service by a consumer is driven by three things (a) the size of the target population, (b) the number of people in the population that KNOW of the product/service and (c) and whether or not they have received an endorsement from a trusted source(Word of Mouth). Naturally, there is a time component to all this. It can’t all happen at once, it takes time for the message to get out and it takes time for that first buyer to happen to speak of it to someone else who has an interest. Each group pf products and services has some basic factors for time, knowledge spread and word of mouth propagation.

There you go. The secret to marketing in one simple paragraph. Not!

Do you remember the target population? However carefully you define it, most people forget that it has a “hidden” component. That population is broken into subgroups by marketing theory folks as innovators, early adopters, etc on out to the “I ain’t never gonna buy one of those things” laggard people. That tiny fraction of innovators is the crucial piece. You nay see a target population of a million but only 2.5% (25,000) will buy up front. That means that the spread is slower and customers take time to develop because of the smaller pool.

By the way, out of that million, there is roughly 160,000 people who will not ever buy.

If you want read more about this, a good place to start is



  1. Hi, Joe,

    I’ve found your Bass Diffusion Curve in real life. For me it’s a factor of not only how many people have purchased my product, but what I call “evangelists” vs. people who might use my product, and time.

    I create websites. My target market, generally speaking, is business. Amongst businesses some don’t ever want a website — say the corner 1-shop carwash counting on repeat customers and “drive-by” business. Then there’s people who don’t want or need it because they have one (franchisees, multi-level marketing folks, people who have already purchased one and it’s working out just fine).

    Then there are people who want one, now or in the future. The other day a prospect called me. I had already heard from her: she does floral arrangements. One person had spoken to her about me in December. She called me back last week, because a second person told her about me. She was already on speaking terms with me as a potential client, and she was hit by a second evangelist. What’s most notable is that both evangelists had never purchased a website from me; both know me from networking events, and having met me and my other clients they know I deliver a sound product and my clients are happy. That’s enough to evangelize my business to others.

    That level of saturation of the local business community took time, and a lot of face-to-face networking, in addition to delivering a more-than-adequate level of quality to a number of clients. This is not the first prospect who came to me from multiple referral sources. It took me about 6 months of avid networking for referrals to start to kick in reliably, and an additional year and people are coming to me from multiple referrals.

    The Bass Diffusion Curve is a theory that has sound backing in my opinion. Thanks for sharing it with me, I’ve had a great time watching it in action in my own business.

    Criss Ittermann
    Eclectic Tech, LLC

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