the twenty

[A cartoon I did for Deborah Schultz back in 2007.]

Yesterday on Twitter, I wrote:

“There are roughly 20 people in your space who matter. They’re either reading your blog, or they’re not.”


I don’t know what industry you work in, but I do know that the number of people who “own the conversation” in your space is very, very small.

When I worked with English Cut, a Savile Row tailor [$5000 hand-made suits], the number was about twelve. When I worked with Stormhoek in the UK wine business, the number was probably even smaller [80% of the wine sold in the UK is from the same four or five large supermarket chains].

And by the time we were done, all the people who mattered to us in both these businesses were reading our blogs. We saw to it. We made sure it happened. We made sure “the conversation” was interesting enough that they really had no choice.

I would suggest that right this minute, you make a list of the twenty or so people in your space who matter. Then ask yourself, who on this list is actually reading your stuff, actually follows what you’re up to, actually knows that you exist?

If most of the people on the list are reading you, the others will follow. If they’re not, then you’ve got a wee bit of a marketing problem.

But at least now you know what that problem is…

[UPDATE:] I like what Gary Walter said in the comments below:

This [...] goes right along with my phi­lo­sophy of life. I nee­ded the remin­der though. As my blog has got­ten more popu­lar, I’ve found myself wri­ting to the exten­ded audience. Howe­ver, if I’m not wri­ting to/for my core, then nothing I write is worth the elec­trons that carry it.


[Backs­tory: About Hugh. E-mail Hugh. Twit­ter. News­let­ter. Book. Inter­view One. Inter­view Two. EVIL PLANS. Limi­ted Edi­tion Prints. Pri­vate Com­mis­sions. Cube Gre­na­des.]

Speak Your Mind


Comment through Twitter

Are you ready to work with us?

Get More Info


Hugh MacLeod is a genius.  Genius.

Seth Godin
Best Selling Author

His work acknowledges the absurdity of workaday life, while also encouraging employees to respond with passion, creativity, and non-conformity...   MacLeod’s work is undeniably an improvement over the office schlock of yore. At its best, it’s more honest, and more cognizant of the entrepreneurial psyche, while still retaining some idealism.

The New Republic
Lydia Depillis

Last year my State of the College address was 76 slides loaded with data. This year it was 14 cartoons that were substantially more memorable.

Len Schlesinger
Former President, Babson College

"There are only two daily newsletters that I look forward to opening and reading every time they show up to my inbox: Seth Godin's and gapingvoid."

Tony Hsieh
CEO, Zappos

In moments of indecision I glance at the wall [to Hugh's work] for guidance.

Brian Clark
  • Seth Godin
  • The New Republic
  • Len Schlesinger
  • Tony Hsieh
  • Brian Clark