In America, we tend to like stuff that’s big. Big cars (until gas prices rise), big houses, big audiences, big lists, everything big. The bigger it is, the more we like it.
Take the photo on the right, for example. It’s an image of the world’s largest piano.
Yes, it’s big. It’s also probably unplayable, unless you have a whole team of pianists who have carefully practiced playing in perfect unison.
It may be wonderful to look at, but in practical terms, it’s pretty useless.
Is a bigger list always better?
I belong to two different forums on similar subjects. One has about 4,000 active members (out of over 40,000 that signed up). The other has 15 people.
The larger forum is paid (not a large sum, but still they collect a fee every month).
With all those people in the first forum, you’d think it would be humming with posts and activity. It was, at first, but now it’s slowed to a trickle. The founder (who is very well known online) hasn’t been around in months and months. The person he hired to run it disappeared for weeks without warning or explanation.
Or is useful better?
The second forum is very active, and it’s free. The founder is not nearly as well known (likes to keep a low profile). But, he posts or comments nearly every day. Members ask questions (and get good answers). They support and help each other.
Forum #1: Useless
Forum #2: Priceless
The same principle applies to marketing (whether it’s an email list, a snail mail list, or pay per click). What counts is not large numbers of people, but whether you’re reaching the right people. A big list of 100,000 names, or a forum with 40,000 signups, won’t help if the addresses are outdated, the members don’t participate, or your service/product is irrelevant.