How to Use 'The Tipping Point' as a Catalyst for Breakthroughs in Your Artist Career
How to leverage seemingly small and insignificant things, to create big breakthrough moments...
This article is the first in a series that I’m working on, where I’ll be sharing strategies and principles that you can apply to your artist business, or indeed any business.
If you’re an artist, the content in this series is for you if you already have some momentum and you’re looking to kick on to the next level, or you’re at a stage where you have a genuinely great product (and you’re sure beyond doubt that you do) and you want to know how to maximize the impact as you launch your career.
The Tipping Point is an idea first put forward and written about by best-selling author and behavioral psychologist Malcolm Gladwell in his book of the same name. It has since become a well-known concept that is used in the business world to describe how small actions can lead to big changes and success.
While The Tipping Point is a book I'd heard a lot about, it wasn't until recently that I took the plunge and read it. It was a very powerful exercise because I have personally been applying much of the theory and ideas that Gladwell talks about throughout the book.
In explaining his idea of ‘The Tipping Point’, Gladwell uses examples of past phenomenons to demonstrate the various components he believes lead to the eventual tipping point event happening AKA hitting critical mass; be it at a micro or macro level.
One such example was how in the mid-nighties, Hush Puppies shoes went from being an unpopular product to a must-have fashion accessory worn by cool hipster kids in the space of a few months, resulting in the company scaling production and leveraging the momentum created towards mass adoption in the mainstream on a global scale.
Another example, explains how the crime rate in New York City dropped at an unprecedented rate, due to a seemingly insignificant and simple new initiative installed by the newly elected police commissioner of cleaning all graffiti from tube trains and keeping them that way ongoing.
Gladwell's theory was that the knock-on effect of this initiative itself was what caused the crime rate to drop. It was known that those who entered the tube network to graffiti the trains, did so by jumping over the turnstiles and not purchasing a ticket. So, to stop this from happening, the police commissioner drafted in extra police to catch them red-handed as they entered the tube network.
This in itself doesn't seem like it would be hugely significant, but in the process of stopping these people from entering the tube network, the police also found that many of them were wanted for much bigger crimes, crimes worthy of putting them behind bars for a considerable amount of time; and in turn, the crime rate across the entire city was massively reduced.
Many people question Gladwell's theory in this instance and indeed many of the other theories he references in the book; the reality is that when you're trying to backward engineer incredibly complex situations, it will always be difficult to know, one way or another if you're correct.
Ultimately Gladwell isn't an entrepreneur or somebody who likely has the skill set or even the interest to attempt to apply his ideas to a brand new situation to prove them to be true.
Whether Gladwell is right or wrong, it didn't change how excited I was in discovering his ideas, because I now have some logical theories as a mechanism to apply rationale behind some of the strategies I have naturally and innately executed on my journey that have achieved seemly impossible outcomes.
The Tipping Point framework explains that three main components are required to create an epidemic of change:
1. The Law of the Few
This law states that it only takes a few influential people to influence many other people and create an epidemic change.
2. A Stickiness Factor
A Stickiness Factor is a unique characteristic of an idea or product that makes it memorable and compels people to talk about it, share it, and spread the word. It involves making something fun, interesting, or thought-provoking to encourage viral sharing and establish a lasting connection with an audience.
3. Critical Mass or ‘The Tipping Point’ itself.
Critical Mass or the ‘tipping point’ itself is when an idea, product or phenomenon has reached a level of saturation in terms of public awareness, where it is no longer considered to be on the rise and instead has achieved mainstream adoption on a macro level or mass awareness within a micro marketplace.
While all of the examples in ‘The Tipping Point’ are based on backward-engineered theories of the past, I truly believe that it's possible to manufacture and create the perfect situation to consistently trigger a tipping point to happen. I would go as far as to say that I know it's possible because I already did it through the work I did with UK alternative rock band The Hunna, all which happened by design and without there being anything left to chance. I talk in detail about these strategies which led to the band’s tipping point later in this article.
In this next part, I'm going to talk in detail about how you as an artist or somebody who works with artists (or indeed anyone who has a great product or idea) can take both my ideas and that of Gladwell, and use them as a means to take action that creates the perfect storm to trigger a tipping point yourself.