"The Tipping Point" is another interesting book from Malcolm Gladwell. "Tipping points" are the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable. He analyses how social epidemics start and classifies 3 kinds of people you will need - who will help your product/portal/message reach the tipping point.
Connectors : Connectors are passive information passers. "Hi I heard about this cool website..." - is what they will say - and they will say this to quite a few.
Mavens : Mavens are more factual. "Do you know you can get this and this done in this website..." - is what they will say. They analyze threadbare the features/shortcomings and will help the listener make a fair judgement of the product.
Salesmen : Salesmen are more persuasive. "You should be using this website because it will save you time and effort...." is what they will say. They not only do the job of mavens - by giving you facts but they also will list out the advantages in such a manner that will make the listener run and get it.
You have to spot the connectors, mavens and salesmen among your customers. The tried and tested advertising is word of mouth - it is very hard to get this kind of advertising, but this is the only way you can "tip" your business.
So - rethink your strategy. How do you get people to talk about your product - is it through doing more SEO, is it through meaningful articles on a blog, is it by talking more to your customers? Wish I knew the right answer :) - but it does raise interesting questions - and in the answers lie the strategy to help your venture reach its tipping point.
Some interesting quotes from the book :
"The three rules of the Tipping Point -- The Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, the Power of Context -- offer a way of making sense of epidemics. They provide us with direction for how to go about reaching a Tipping Point."
" Acquaintances, in short, represent a source of social power, and the more acquaintances you have the more powerful you are."
"Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do."