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Mastering Tribal Marketing

Mastering Tribal Marketing


In the first part of this series, Tribes in Today’s Marketing, we established a fundamental understanding of what tribes are, how and why they are formed, how they have evolved, and how this has redefined the market.

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. You can certainly map out the common demographic variables: age, gender, income, and location. These are easy to understand, but to get involved and rise to leadership in your tribe, you need more.

Chances are, your tribe doesn’t exist around your direct offering itself, be it 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 surrounding your product, be it the convenience it provides or the lifestyle aspect it provides.

If you sell golf clubs, the task of identifying your tribe is fairly straightforward. His tribe is passionate about golf, improving their game and having the latest in golf technology.

Maybe you are an organic grocer. His tribe is made up of people who care about good health and nutrition and supporting farmers who grow more natural and healthier food. These are the people who are ready to take your message and set it on fire.

However, many times the tribes that drive organizations and their products operate at a different level.

If you own the coffee shop on the corner, you surely have something to offer the tribe of people who appreciate good coffee. But perhaps the atmosphere of your store is fueled by the passions of a tribe that aspires to lead a cosmopolitan lifestyle. If you sell fair trade coffee, your products may appeal to an entirely different tribe, one that is sensitive to geopolitical issues.

Many times, tribes are about a state of mind. They are made up of people who live a certain way and who care about certain things. In this way, the challenge is not so much about analyzing demographics as it is about 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 its 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 are on message boards; they are speaking in forums; they are in the blogosphere; They are connecting with each other on Twitter. In some cases, they even meet and meet in person.

Most of the time, the communities you seek are not centered in one place, and there is rarely an obvious sign that says, “This community lives here.” If you sell coffee, you can’t just go to 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 vs. relationship-based tribes

Until now, our focus has been primarily on interest-based tribes, which form when people connect around a shared passion. However, social media allows for a new type of connection, and therefore a new type of tribe, one that is formed based on how its members know each other, be it through work, family, or location.

These organically created tribes are not bound by any common interest, but rather by the shared goals and interests of life that are relevant to all of us. We turn to these tribes for help in 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 local businesses and relationships

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 television, pay utility bills, buy groceries, own cars, improve our homes, raise our children; the list goes on almost indefinitely.

For all of these things, we rely on our tribes of family, co-workers, and neighbors for helpful advice and recommendations. As a result, small businesses have a great opportunity to thrive within these tribes if they know where and how to find them. The answer is social media.

For example, if someone has a wonderful experience with a local mechanic, they don’t log on to and evangelize for Mike the Mechanic. However, they tweet about the great service they received. They could even go a step further and make Mike a member of your online community by connecting to his business page on Facebook and sharing his website with friends who live nearby.

In fact, it is not uncommon for the genesis of an interest-based tribe to begin with relationship-based tribes that speak for a brand and share its message.

In other words, if you connect with members of 50 family tribes, inevitably these people will connect to form their own community, and your message will begin to spread virally, feeding on your own momentum to foster the growth of an interest. based tribe.

Become a member of the tribe

Membership does not begin the day you begin to participate in the conversation. You must earn the respect of the tribe to become one of them.

Don’t go in and start selling right away, or you’ll be kicked out quickly and permanently. Better yet, don’t even start talking. Listen first and learn about 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 issues. Learn what is funny, what is serious, what is cliche, what is typical, what people want, and what turns them off.

When you start participating, the only rule that applies is to be real. Don’t approach the conversation as an anonymous, self-motivated corporate marketer. Come serve the tribe and its goals. Be yourself – a person with a budget, family, needs, problems, and passions like everyone else.

If you are in the business of doing what you love and believe in what you do, then talk about it honestly when the time is right, without prejudice or agenda. You must become a trusted member of the tribe before you can start 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 most of all, they have built a consistent reputation for defending the tribe.

As time goes on, having shown that the advancement of the tribe drives you first and foremost, you will gain ground as more than just a trusted and non-judgmental 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, but they will spread your message like no marketing campaign.

This is where the leadership of the tribe really runs counter to business models rooted in decades of traditional marketing.

Today it is more important to have confidence than to sell. Tribes are built on trust, and trust cannot be achieved with old-fashioned marketing tactics. It is true that tribal leadership and direct selling can generate sales income, at least in the short term. However, while earning the trust of your tribe is the most indirect route, in the end, the organization that makes a long-term investment in the leadership of the tribe will ultimately achieve the most sales and claim ownership of the market.

In the third part of this series, we will cover how the influence of tribes extends beyond promotion and really shapes how businesses evolve around the tribe.

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