Today is kind of a sad day at my house because I have to get a new garage door opener. Now, it’s only sad because after 18 years I have to get a new garage door opener. Things break, right? But the cool thing is the new one has Wi-Fi. Now, my wife gets freaked out when she hits the button and the garage door doesn’t go up and down, understandably, especially when she has to go to work. So it was time. But today we’re going to talk about, instead of searching for a needle in a haystack, why don’t you start building a pile of needles? This might take a little explaining.

Needle In A Haystack

So in the last episode of the Bacon Podcast, episode 485, I interviewed John Corcoran, and John brought up this concept, which I found very intriguing.

I have a new system that I’ve started, and it’s basically weekly LinkedIn tips webinars. If you want to check it out go to, and there you can find the webinar replays weekly. I scour LinkedIn looking for ideas. What could I possibly talk about? I came across a LinkedIn expert who posts a list of the top influencers on LinkedIn. When I started looking through this list, I noticed that not everybody has the same amount of followers.

Some of those people have almost the max, 30,000, while others have 3,000 or 4,000. The keyword here is ‘influencer’. The people with 30,000 people following them (or even millions) are influencers. What they say has an influence on their followers. Others with fewer followers may have a much more targeted audience. Are they still influencers? Yes, but maybe not to a broad range of people. So what’s the difference? Well, that is exactly what we’re talking about when I explain the difference between a needle in a haystack and a pile of needles.

Will You Marry Me?

In my presentations, I’ve often asked people “If you go into a bar and you tap somebody on the shoulder, and you ask them to marry you, how many times do you think that would work?” Law of averages says one in a thousand would probably marry you and it probably would not end well, but that’s the way that most people treat business and prospecting. Think about that for a minute?

Traditional advertising works the same way. Some people call that kind of advertising “Spray & Pray!” You get your message in front of enough people, there will be someone who needs what you are selling at the moment they see your ad in their mailbox (physical or virtual), or Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or [insert social media post here].

I’ve talked to contractors who’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars on yellow page ads, and they loved it because when they got a hit the phone would ring. The phone book gave them feedback when the phone rand that the ad was working.

Nowadays, it’s a lot tougher with social media and other tools that we have at our fingertips, because phone books, newspapers, the traditional things that we grew up with are no longer mainstream.

Now what people try to do is transpose what worked in the past, tapping those thousand people on the shoulder, and hoping that it will translate to that one sale. In the Internet marketing space, the concept is kind of the same. A lot of people say that the money is in the list, the bigger the list that you create of people on your email list, the better opportunity you have to sell something. But the question you should be asking yourself is, are those people really interested in what you have to say?

The Money Is In The List? Or IS It?

I’ve got clients with 10,000 people on their email list, and the open rates for their emails are below 10%. That means less than a thousand of those 10,000 people even see the message, which is kind of common. But the average open rate on emails is 25%, and a very targeted email lists can be 50% or even 75%. What’s the difference? The difference is, it’s not about the number of people on the list, but the quality of the people on the list. People who actually know, like and trust you will be more active.

Have you ever given away your name for a free hat or a t-shirt? Those are the kinds of people that will not pay attention to your messages.

Now, back to the garage door. The guy installing the garage door opener asked me, “What are you doing today in your podcast?” Because he listens. And I said, “I’m doing a podcast about instead of trying to find a needle in a haystack, create a pile of needles.” So he says, “What does that mean?” I said, “Okay, let me put it into terms that you can understand. Chances are you’re going to walk around this neighborhood with 160 houses in it and put a flyer in everybody’s mailbox. Or you may pay somebody to design it and mail it to everybody, with the hope that somebody in that neighborhood needs your service to repair a garage door at the time that they get it. That’s the needle in the haystack kind of methodology.”

Building A Pile OF Needles

Creating a pile of needles is one of two things. It’s either working with very targeted customers; in other words, you get an alert that their garage door is breaking, or you work with an influencer who can let people know for you. An example of that is, I always take pictures of people working on my house. So I’d take a picture of him working on the garage door, and I put it up on Facebook so my wife can see it. But then, I also share it with my neighborhood group, with those 160 houses saying, “Hey, 18 years isn’t a bad run for a garage door.” That gives him credibility, number one. And number two, it gives people a point of reference of somebody who’s satisfied with the business. At that point, I become an influencer. What’s in it for me?

Well, to help my neighbors, to help him, and to stay top of mind; now that is building a pile of needles. If you work with somebody who’s an influencer and they can let other people know about what you do and your services, it becomes amplified in a way that you cannot achieve with a simple email list or advertisement. There’s that trust factor, there’s that reference, there’s that point of contact.

Creating Influence And Utilizing Influencers

So where are you spending your energy?

Are you trying to use that advertising mentality to get your name in front of as many people as possible, with the hope that you tap somebody on the shoulder and they say yes? Or, are you spending time connecting with influencers, and making sure that they understand who you are, what you do, and what makes you different? And of course, what’s in it for them? That’s one of the reasons I interview people on this podcast. I not only want to learn from them, but I want to provide value to my audience in the form of a great interview, and they get exposure to this influencer’s audience.

Final Thoughts

So, which takes more time? Well, obviously building a pile of needles rather than taking a magnet and hoping that you can pull one out of a haystack. But a pile of needles has more value, and you can use each one to sew together relationships that can help you build the fabric of your business. So get stitching.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas or questions about showing the concepts presented. Have you had to overcome any of the presented concepts? What worked and what did not live up to expectations? Do you have any ideas or advice you could share?