Kelford Labs Daily: What’s next, not just what’s best

Path dependence in marketing

Kelford Labs Daily: What’s next, not just what’s best

There’s a concept in social science called, “path dependence.” Basically, where you’ve been influences where you can go next.

You can end up pretty much anywhere, but your path to get there will, one step at a time, be influenced by the previous step.

Which means your current roster of clients is in some way influencing or constraining your ability to attract new ones. The work you do now, the things you spend your days thinking about, in some way constrain and influence the ideas and value you’ll have next.

That’s not to say limit—you can get bigger, better clients, and you can have bigger, better ideas, and create more and more value—but the form they take next will be influenced by the form they’ve taken before.

So, this is what all of this means, practically:

If you want different, better clients from the ones you have now, don’t just think, “Which clients do I want to have?” but also consider, “Who are the best possible clients I could get next based on what I’m doing now?”

I see business owners try to skip these interim steps all the time by practically giving away their services in an attempt to attract big, prestigious clients right out of the gate (and never recovering from their unprofitable success).

Or by doing massive ad campaigns to promote their launch or service offering, and getting zero results because they didn’t understand their audience.

Or by hiring external salespeople or lead generation services to get them more meetings and connections, and then wasting all their time talking to all the wrong people.

But the clients you have now are some unknown number of steps away from your absolute ideal clients.

You can get there, but it’ll be a step at a time—not one big leap.

So, just as much as you consider what’s best, make sure you consider what’s next.