Just got a phone call from someone in the UK. He was in Buffalo, NY, excited to share the news about a meeting he just left. This was the beginning of his breakthrough, he said. 400 stores around the country would be carrying his new product (up from zero). It was (about to be) a home run.
Except it hadn't happened yet. He hadn't gotten final approval from some executive that he hadn't actually met yet.
The home runs you almost hit don't count. The home runs you almost hit don't add up, they don't accrue. As marketers, most of what we see are the home runs, the appearances on Oprah or the Facebooks of the world. The giant home runs that change everything.
Except that marketing success stories almost never happen that way. They happen on the back of singles, one after another. That's how Wal-mart became Wal-mart and Boingboing became Boingboing.
Singles are less thrilling and require way too much work, but they build on each other. Over time, if you grow by 10 or 15% every week or month, you grow, reliably. And that steady growth transforms into every faster growth.
Any marketing plan that is nothing but a series of attempted home runs has a problem. The problem is that the odds don't get better as you go along.