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Ever heard the saying “Don’t be a big fish in a small pond”?

It started out (in 1881) as a warning: watch out or a “bigger fish” will come along and eat you. Good advice back then when bigger companies did tend to gobble up smaller ones or put them out of business.

I’d argue it’s never been easier or safer to be a big fish in a small pond. Let me explain or, more accurately, let me let Seth Godin explain.

Godin observes “the long tail” is starting to segment into multiple markets, multiple audiences, and multiple long tails. I believe he’s right. My version is more big fish than long tail, so maybe a minute to revisit The Long Tail:

Think Barnes & Noble and Amazon and how the internet has changed distribution. The long tail is a strategy that allows companies to realize significant revenues by selling low volumes of hard-to-find items to many customers (Amazon able to sell 3.4 million book titles via the internet), instead of only selling large volumes of a reduced number of popular items (B&N, physical stores with limited inventory).

It’s been happening for a while. But the coronavirus has accelerated this trend by restricting personal contact and pushing all of us to the internet for shopping, school, and hanging out with friends. This has increased people’s ability to find what they’re looking for and made it easier for ALL books, movies, outdoor clothes, etc., to find their audiences. As Godin puts it: “Short heads built on multiple long tails.” Here’s his article.

Let me add:

This argues more than ever for small companies to focus on promoting who they really are instead of trying to look like something they think will appeal to the most people. Be crystal clear about who you are and focus on attracting that small pond of people who are looking for a company exactly like yours. You know what I’m talking about. When you get that phone call or read that email or have that conversation at a trade show and you KNOW that person is going to buy. You and they are a perfect fit. That’s what I’m talking about.

The internet is creating many small ponds. It’s never been easier or safer to be a big fish in one of them. Go be a big fish.