This One Lesson Forever Changed How I Build Businesses

In today’s article, I want to share with you the one big lesson that I took away from a college economics class that completely changed the way that I think about business. And hopefully, you’ll be able to apply it for whatever business venture that you’re trying to create to this day.

And the reason why I want to share this is because I think it’s one of the only key lessons I took away from my years in college. And it’s really shaped the way that I build anything online whether that this YouTube channel or my websites or any other business that I’ve been a part of, and that really comes from the principle of brand proliferation.

The context behind this strategy

The context behind this principle or strategy as a whole really comes from back in the early days of the cereal industry.

At that time, what happened was there were lots of different types of cereal and you might be wondering how is it that General Mills, Kellogg’s, or any of those major cereal brands own so many different brands of cereal?

And the reason why is because during this point in time, what was happening was there was a lot of mom and pop shops that were creating cereal types that actually better cater to the particular needs and desires of consumers. So, in other words, if, for example, you like your cereal sweet, I like my cereal more savory or salty, then you might have a number line from zero to one in which zero are the people that really like sweet cereals whereas one are the people that like savory cereals.

And so in this situation, if you found yourself on the number line in which you are maybe at 0.3, well, then maybe you’d be more likely to buy these sweet cereals because the distance between your preference of sweet cereals was 0.3 as opposed to the savory cereal that was 0.7. And so what was happening during this time period was there are all these mom and pops that were essentially making all these different types of cereal. So as you can imagine on the number line, you’ve got Kellogg’s and General Mills with their sweet and savory cereals here and here, but you’ve also got these mom and pop shops that are kind of slicing and dicing the user preferences of what people actually want.

And lo and behold, if, for example, you had cereal from a mom and pop shop at the 0.5 mark of the number line, well, then that person that’s at 0.3 actually would go towards the 0.5 as opposed to either the zero or the one. And so that’s really the crux of how General Mills and Kellogg’s became so powerful in the cereal industry.

They realize that these mom-and-pop stores were starting to eat away at their market share. And so what they did for several decades was they started flooding the market with literally every single different type of cereal, because the way they thought about it was if they could flood the number line in terms of 0.1, 0.2, 0.3 and so on with all of their own different brands, then it didn’t frankly matter at whether one type of their cereal cannibalize the other because ultimately that customer was still theirs. And even to this day, decades later, the cereal company is still exert a predominant share of all the major cereals out there because of this strategy.

And what ended up happening was the mom and pop shops couldn’t necessarily survive this much because General Mills and Kellogg’s had the benefits of economies of scale in which after they had built tons and tons of different types of cereal, these mom and pop shops couldn’t keep up in terms of keeping their prices competitive, and so over time they would lose to these bigger players.

How did I apply this principle to my businesses?

From this one lesson in this college economics class, I applied this story or principle to a lot of the online ventures that I’ve explored, whether that was building one niche website or building three niche websites, or that was building a VC-backed company from zero to several million in ARR. Pretty much the takeaway from this was that what we needed to do, regardless of what space we were in is fill the number lines with as many things as possible that we owned.

So for example, if I was building a website around cars, what I would do is I would make sure that I answered literally every single question on the number line of questions that people often had around cars. And the reason why is because I would want to give my website the chance of showing up in those top three or five spots on Google, regardless of what somebody was searching for. As long as they were interested in cars, I wanted to cover it.

And that is the same approach that I took in any single content business or online business that I’ve run. Pretty much in any single niche that I look for, what I look for is whether or not the stars align in which I can brand proliferate to a point in which I can essentially just eliminate any desire by my competition to want to actually enter the space. It’s similar on this YouTube channel, at a certain point, I’d go through these stints of time in which I create tons of videos on a particular topic. And the reason why is because I want to exhaust the majority of the questions that people might have around that particular area that my channel covers, whether that’s SEO, sales or digital marketing.

Why am I sharing this with you?

I’ve applied this principle over and over again, over the last decade in my tech career, I’ve applied it in terms of building different businesses and completely different niches. I’ve applied it when building any company blog or website, as well as my own personal websites and any other digital asset that I’ve built over time. And I’m sharing this with you today, because hopefully what you can learn from this cereal story is that what this means for you is that the main benefit that you have as a small-time creator if you find yourself in similar shoes to somebody like me, is that you just have the benefit of time.

If you have a longer time horizon, like what is covered in the book, Psychology of Money, which I cover over here in case it’s valuable to you. Well, then what you’ll realize is that as long as you don’t have a finite time window as to where your journey is going to take you, you will be able to ultimately fill in the number line.

You will be able to, for example, take the person who has the preference of 0.2 and create a video that’s 0.21, because the gap between their preference of wanting their video as opposed to the other video that’s at 0.1 is closer. And similarly, you can take this approach with any topic to give your own unique spin to it and create content that you enjoy creating.

And it’s this core principle that really drives me because ultimately it doesn’t really matter if this channel becomes really big in the SEO world or digital marketing world or sales and entrepreneurship world, what ultimately matters is that I have created content that specifically answers what you wanted to watch when you were searching for this particular phrase.

So in the case where you are looking for brand proliferation videos, I’ve already done my research on this topic. There are other videos that are hopefully what you can learn from out there on YouTube right now that cover a lot of the story a little bit more in a business case study sense, but I wanted to kind of summarize the high level for you to share with you just my personal takeaways of how I’ve been able to take this approach over and over again.

How to apply this brand proliferation idea?

So you might be wondering how can I take this brand proliferation idea and actually apply it today? Well, the best way that I’ve thought about it is to think about it in laws of 100. And what I mean by that is whatever you go into, think about creating a hundred things of whatever it is that you’re creating in that particular space.

So if, for example, you’re just starting out on your YouTube channel, create a hundred videos before you give up on it. Or if you’re creating a niche website, create a hundred quality long form blog articles before you strike out the chance that that site can actually perform. I’ve gone over time and time again, a few of my own websites and shown how it’s taken several years to get traction on these websites. But over time, once you hit that traction point, you see hockey stick growth like happens month over month.

And it’s just because in a lot of those situations, you have to prove yourself. You have to prove that you’re around to stay. You have to prove to Google or whatever it is that you’re trying to build the trust of that you’re a trustworthy source. And the only way to do that is through consistency. So whatever it is in your creator journey, whether you’re creating a YouTube channel, a blog, a website, or a personal brand of sorts, just keep at it. Ultimately, you will win. It just depends on what your time horizon is.

And if you want to learn more about time horizons, check out my article on the Psychology of Money, there’s some great takeaways, it’s a personal finance book, but it also talks about some key takeaways that you can apply to your own life that are helpful when it comes to tackling anything that you’re trying to learn something new in, or just build something in.

If you liked this article, be sure to check out my YouTube channel to get new videos every single week. I’ll help take you from zero to self-starter as you grow your business, get more customers, and hone your business acumen. Also, feel free to share this with anybody that you think might benefit from learning how to use and apply brand proliferation to your business.

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