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December 17, 2007

Dilbert's Marketing Wisdom


In STICK TO DRAWING COMICS MONKEY BRAIN, Dilbert creator, Scott Adams, shared the above sharp and snappy business advice on how to predict success. He continues by saying, "The only thing that predicts success is passion, even if only 10 percent of the consumers have it."

When the Dilbert comic strip first started in late 80s, Adams remembers most people didn't love it. However, about 10 percent of its readers did love it and many of them clipped-out the comic from the newspaper and shared it with their friends. These people were passionate about the humorous look at dysfunctional office life portrayed in Dilbert. They decorated their cubicles with Dilbert cartoons. Some even put together homemade books of Dilbert cartoons long before the first Dilbert book was sold. They loved Dilbert.

Scott Adams didn't worry about trying to make the Dilbert cartoon successful by making the indifferent reader passionate about Dilbert. Instead, he relied on Dilbert succeeding by fueling the passions of those most passionate about all things Dilbert.

A greater predictor of successful product introductions is to gain a passionate and loyal customer base, no matter how small in numbers they are.

This isn't an absolute predictor as the abandoned product graveyard is littered with products that failed despite attracting a small, passionate customer base. However, if your product only attracts indifferent customers and fails to attract passionate customers ... chances are, that product will not succeed.


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True indeed, pretty sharp wisdom. Creating strong WOM (and Viral!) is always nescessary to succeed and often comes from a passionate customerbase.

I don't know what the new in this was? :)

This is a great post. If someone likes a product, that might not be enough for them to actually take the time to go purchase it, either online or offline.

It needs to be "remarkable"

Oscar ... I've come to learn there is very little NEW in marketing/business principles. There are, however, NEW WAYS to explain "old" marketing and business principles. Scott Adams explains something "old" in a NEW WAY that connects with me.

Dan ... being "remarkable" has become the cost of doing business if you want to attract customers. But being worth remarking about doesn't guarantee a passionate and evangelical customer base.

The problem is that most companies judge product success only by trial, repeat and loyalty measures. Loyalty to a product and loving a product are not necessarily the same thing. Customers who love a product are a subsegment of those who are loyal to it.
Marketers may want to figure out how to keep alive the desires of those customers who truly love their product vs. those who are loyal to it because of price, lack of suitable alternatives, distribution, etc.

Very true. I was with BMW for 5 years and they had a very similar belief. Attracting passion is truly important. Since leaving them, I've started up my own company and I'm carrying that same bit of insight with me into our business plan.

Aaron Smith

Hmm, that's a real good post, and really got me thinking. The message is very true. Thanx for the enlightenment!


The concept of a small (10%) but passionate following is one of the key driving forces of the "tipping point" theory. Once the raving fan base gets to 10% or so, it has reached its "critical mass" and takes off.

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