In the first part of this series, Tribes in Marketing Today, we established a foundational understanding of what tribes are, how and why they form, how they have evolved, and how this has redefined the marketplace.
We now turn our attention to how business growth is achieved today by identifying, understanding, uniting and, in due course, leading the tribes that are relevant to your business and your bottom line.
identify your tribe
When you market your product or service, you strive to understand your target audience. Certainly, you can map out the usual demographic variables: age, gender, income, and location. These are easy to understand, but to participate and rise to leadership in your tribe, you need more.
Your tribe most likely doesn’t exist around your direct offering itself, either specifically around your brand or even your product or service in the generic sense.
Chances are, your tribe will rally around an idea or value that surrounds your product, whether it’s the convenience it provides or the lifestyle aspect it offers.
If you sell golf clubs, the task of identifying your tribe is quite simple. His tribe is passionate about golf, improving their game and having the latest in golf technology.
Maybe you are an organic grocer. A tribe is understood as people who are conscientious about good health and nutrition and support farmers who grow more natural and healthier foods. These are the people who are ready to take your message and set it on fire.
However, many times the tribes that drive the organizations and their products operate on a different level.
If you own the coffee shop around the corner, you certainly have something to offer to the tribe of people who appreciate good coffee. But perhaps the atmosphere of your store taps into the passions of a tribe that aspires to a cosmopolitan lifestyle. If you sell fair trade coffee, your products could appeal to an entirely different tribe, one that is sensitive to geopolitical issues.
Many times, tribes are about a state of mind. They are understood by people who live in a certain way and who care about certain things. In this way, the challenge is not so much analyzing demographics as identifying those whose shared passions align with yours.
locate your tribe
Tribes are never static. They exist for a purpose. They are living life and solving problems. To remain relevant and meet the needs of their members, they must evolve. This requires a platform, if not multiple platforms, where they can meet, discuss and debate ideas, share news, and continue the ongoing conversation about their passions.
They’re on message boards; they are talking on forums; they are in the blogosphere; are connecting with each other on Twitter. In some cases, they even get together and meet in person.
Most of the time, the communities you’re looking for aren’t centered in one place, and rarely is there an obvious sign that says, “This community lives here.” If you sell coffee, you can’t just go to coffeeisgreat.com and find people who are talking about how much they love coffee. However, if you have identified your tribe, as well as their passions, needs, desires and fears, it is much easier to find them.
Interest-Based Tribes Vs. relationship-based tribes
Until now, our focus has been primarily on interest-based tribes, which are formed when people connect around a shared passion. However, social networks allow a new kind of connection, and therefore a new kind of tribe, which is formed based on how its members know each other, be it through work, family or location.
These organically created tribes are not united by any common interest, but by the shared goals and interests of life that are relevant to all of us. We turn to these tribes for help getting things done, solutions to everyday problems, and guidance to improve the quality of our lives and the lives of those around us.
Tribes based on relationships and local businesses
The power of these types of tribes is quite significant when you consider the almost limitless aspects of life that we all have in common. Most of us cut our hair, wear shoes, do laundry, watch TV, pay utility bills, shop for groceries, buy a car, make improvements to our home, raise our children – the list goes on almost indefinitely.
For all of these things, we rely on our tribes of family, coworkers, and neighbors for helpful tips and advice. As a result, small businesses have a great opportunity to prosper within these tribes if they know where and how to find them. The answer is social networks.
For example, if someone has a wonderful experience with a local mechanic, they don’t log on to greatmechanics.com and evangelize for Mike the Mechanic. However, they tweet about the great service they received. They could even go one step further and make Mike a member of their online community by connecting with his business page on Facebook and sharing his website with friends who live nearby.
In fact, it’s not uncommon for the genesis of an interest-based tribe to begin with relationship-based tribes talking about a brand and sharing its message.
In other words, if you connect with members of 50 family-based tribes, inevitably these people will connect to form their own community, and your message will start to spread virally, feeding off its own momentum to foster the growth of an interest. based tribe.
Become a member of the tribe
Membership doesn’t start the day you start participating in the conversation. You must earn the respect of the tribe to become one of them.
Don’t jump in and start selling right away, or you’ll be quickly and permanently banned. Better yet, don’t even start talking. Listen first and get a sense of the internal culture.
Most tribes have evolved over many years and have developed their own rules, perspectives and goals, and building credibility requires an appreciation of these nuances. Read past conversations to understand the history and passion surrounding the topics. Learn what’s funny, what’s serious, what’s cliché, what’s typical, what people like and what they don’t like.
When you start participating, the only rule that applies is to be real. Don’t approach the conversation as an anonymous, self-motivated corporate salesperson. Come serve the tribe and its goals. Be yourself: a person with a budget, family, needs, problems, and passions just like everyone else.
If you’re in the business of doing what you love and believe in what you do, then speak honestly about it when the time is right without bias or agenda. He must become a trusted member of the tribe before he can begin leading it.
rule the tribe
The process and path to tribal leadership is unique to each community. However, all tribal leaders possess certain qualities that allow them to rise to the top.
They are fearless. They are innovative. They challenge the status quo. But above all, they have built a consistent reputation by defending the tribe.
As time goes on, after he has shown that he is driven above all else by the advancement of the tribe, he will gain ground as more than just another trusted and unbiased member. The tribe wants to know that you are listening and leading. They want to know that there is someone who really cares about meeting their needs. If you can earn that level of trust with them, they will not only buy from you every time, they will spread your message like no marketing campaign ever could.
This is where the leadership of the tribe really goes against business models rooted in decades of traditional marketing.
Nowadays, it is more important to be reliable than to sell. Tribes are built on trust, and trust cannot be achieved with old marketing tactics. It is true that tribal leadership and direct selling can generate sales revenue, at least in the short term. However, while earning their tribe’s trust is the more roundabout path, in the end, the organization that makes a long-term investment in tribal leadership will ultimately make the most sales and claim ownership of the marketplace.
In part three of this series, we’ll cover how the influence of tribes extends beyond promotion and actually shapes how business evolves around the tribe.