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The Last 10%

Lately, I have talked about “the last 10%” in a bunch of conversations and interviews. Most notably I referenced it while speaking about B2C competing with Amazon and the mass market.

This is a nugget I loved when I first heard it and I’ve kept it part of my decision-making framework for some time. Generally I think about “the last 10%” as the things that are left after “the first 90%” of things that everyone does, get done.

I also think about the concept in terms of customers and customer experience, but believe it can be applied more broadly.

I wanted to expound upon it a bit here, channeling my inner Seth Godin in doing so:

The last 10% are usually the things toughest to scale.

The last 10% are the things a company can do when it truly understands its customers, market and their respective needs.

The last 10% usually centers on service, nuance or originality.

The last 10% can only be identified if you’re really listening.

The last 10% is what Amazon can’t / won’t do because they serve everyone with every widget instead of participating in-market and more narrowly with segments of users.

The last 10% are the things that the outsiders, spreadsheet-ers, short-sighted, mass market or uninformed may call “diminishing returns”.

The last 10% are the things that amaze your customers because they can’t believe you actually do them.

The last 10% are the things that show you care consistently and will go the extra mile.

The last 10% are the things that are still supposed to happen, even when no one is looking.

The last 10% comes from proprietary insights or “secrets” that your customer may tell you but most likely only show you with their actions (data).

The last 10% focuses on value creation, not value extraction.

The last 10% improves your CAC: LTV over time, but probably not tomorrow.

The last 10% is like compound interest.

The last 10% is the magic that will make your customers vote with their credit cards, love you, stay loyal and tell their friends.

The last 10% is how you build a brand or a cause, not just a business.

The last 10% is what separates the truly remarkable from the merely great.

The last 10% of things are very hard, but pay off in the long run.

PS –  You could change a few words here and this entire post could be about people. Specifically, how great managers manage and great leaders lead. Maybe I’ll do that next week.


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