People tell me that they and their organizations want more. More traffic, more sales, more profits, more applications, more more more.
Joel Spolsky runs a small software company in New York City. His real passion, though, is talking about how to run a small software company. Through blogs and books and conferences, Joel has completely changed the way many smart people think about finding, hiring and managing programmers. Along the way, Joel has assembled a large and influential tribe of people who look to him for leadership.
Jacqueline Novogratz doesn’t run the Acumen Fund. She leads the tribe there. She’s challenged the status quo for so long, and so effectively, her movement is gaining steam, making a difference and establishing new rules.
One way is to interrupt people with ads
the younger you start, the better
and endorsements don’t hurt
even if sometimes juxtapositions get in the way
More used to come from television. Money spent on interrupting people with ads led to more of what you wanted, and that made you more money, so you could do it again.
Like all good things, it spiraled.
Which led to ever more opportunities to interrupt
and ever more clutter
Of course, it’s not just TV that got cluttered
So, the idea was to find people
And assault them with messages
At which point, you’d create an irresistible force and close the sale
This insatiable thirst by marketers led us through a transformation, because the most important thing is to find fresh attention, fresh markets, new people to sell stuff to
Here’s the bad news. That doesn’t work any more. The TV industrial complex is dead.
No need to panic. It turns out that this is being replaced by something far better, faster, cheaper and more powerful.
The past has been replaced by something different, and in many ways, something more powerful, more organic and more profitable. The connections between people are far more powerful than the assault of TV ads.
The question that people ask has changed. They don’t worry so much about “what’s new” or “what’s on sale?” They are curious about who else is involved.
And ultimately, once they get a sense for who’s part of this group, they want to know who the leader is. Where are we going and who is going to take us there.
Hugh Macleod’s cartoon explains where the real truth lies, where growth occurs regardless of the state of the economy
People connect. They join groups. I call these groups Tribes.
Of course, we’ve always had tribes. Mostly three: a church (one church per town!)
a job (one factory per town)
And a local tribe.
This is the old way. You target people. You hunt them down. You do marketing to them.
This is the new way: Consumers market to each other.
Tribes matter. They always have. Now, though, they matter more.We've always had a work tribe, a community tribe and a religious tribe. People may have opted out of one or two, but these were the three prevailing modes of grouping up.IBM employees in their white shirts and blue suits. Bürgermeisters and the king's court. Deacons and choirboys... it was very natural for groups like this to exist and to connect and to strengthen their organizations.Marketing was apart from this. It was a separate thing. You marketed Tide or Frank Sinatra by targeting people, by telling stories, by advertising. But it certainly was different from, say, a church or a town council meeting.Mass media started the change and the internet finished it. Beatles fans were a tribe, certainly, a tribe that mourned at their breakup and at John's death. The Grateful Dead officially established that touring musicians could have a tribe that numbered in the millions. And don't forget corporate tribes and international tribes as well.So what?What does the existence of tribes as a fact of our society change? Deadheads or juvenile diabetes parents or Nike collectors or civil war buffs... why does it matter that people are self-organizing?Because most organizations and most marketers are ignoring what's happening.<i>If this shift is as seismic as I'm arguing, then why isn't it changing what we make, how we make it, who we make it for, how we talk about it and what we do all day?</i>Quietly, almost secretly, tribes have been remaking our world. Harley Davidson and Nike and Apple and yes the Mormon Church are all growing as a result. Bill Richardson had no tribe, Barack Obama has 2 million paying members.But before we can start down the path of strategy and tactics and investment, the question has to be asked, &quot;How important is it to you really?&quot;Because if it's not vital, it's not going to happen, at least for you. If it were easy and simple and obvious, you'd already be leading a vibrant tribe. But it's now clear that (except for the random exceptions) tribes are built, built with leadership and insight and love. We need to start by embracing the phenomenon and deciding whether it's worth the effort.I think it is.
The red hat ladies have spread around the world, showing up in local cultures andn places you never would have expected.
How do we explain tens of thousands of people doing triathalons every year?
Only one person is going to win the race, and the prize is small anyway... but of course, that’s not the point. These guys don’t even LIKE swimming. They like the tribe, the self-identification, the spirit of shared competition.
Some tribes, of course, are more rigid and carefully led than others. Photo by Steve Webel
It’s not an accident that soldiers wear uniforms.
This is a primal human need, but as the internet has joined together previously fragmented groups, we’re seeing that everyone from Ukrainian folk dancers to...
...devout fundamentalist Hasidic Jews are sharing their connections more widely. Ironically, the connections are getting deeper as we integrate across the planet, because we can find each other.
The rodeo is a central gathering for one tribe.
While Rodeo (drive) is the gathering point for another.
Cars are nothing but badges for tribe members
Some of these tribes are based on modern versions of ancient archetypes.
Some are just based on ancient archetypes
But others can be as recent as a classic movie. Is this valuable to MGM, owner of the rights to the movie? Does the existence of a tribe around something you own change things? It’s more than a chance to sell some cheap costumes.
This is a fascinating exercise because every single group figures it out. We like to do what other people are doing!
People express their tribal connections in very public ways when they choose to. It’s a way of keeping outsiders out and insiders in (and in growing your tribe by finding the fellow travelers more easily).
In fiction, we seek out tribes of people, and ...
In real life we emulate them. It engages us more deeply in our week and gives us a sense of mission and accomplishment. (photo by interplast).
We don’t actually need the floor of the stock exchange any more (the NASDAQ doesn’t even have one). But the place and bustle and the smocks and the nature of the event... it bonds this tribe to this mission.
And chefs don’t need to wear white.
And why, exactly, do sailors need to dress this way?
You might wear flowers on your head...
Or a mitre... not to keep your head warm, but to speak to your tribe.
To show your membership.
So, how did this happen? How did a guy end up with a long orange mohawk, and what will this girl say to her parents when they find out?
This is a human need that transcends race or gender or nationality.
And yes, there’s a competitive outdoor ironing tribe.
They travel the world, ironing.
Though it’s not clear where they find a wall outlet.
It impacts us at work as well as at home. (Just fyi, this is a practice burn, no valuable property or people were damaged.)
Out of nowhere, Roller Derby has become a huge sport... but just for women
Non professionals who do it to join a tribe
This is important. No, it’s not important, it’s urgent. If your goal is more, it’s essential to understand that instead of watching TV, these women are choosing to play Roller Derby.
The Shriners are a long-lived tribe, one that combines good deeds with astonishing gravity-defying bicycling skills.
And the internet, of course, has become a hotbed of tribes. Not just offline tribes connected online, but geek tribes that live and thrive where none used to be previously. (This is Chris Pirillo’s tribe: http://chris.pirillo.com/)
The important thing to understand is that no new tribe is normal. No one joins a nascent tribe because it’s average. Ever. These guys don’t do this because they want to fit in. They do it to stand out (together).
Sports teams, of course, are not about the players (who change) but about the fans (who don’t)
It’s not an accident that taxpayers are spending almost a billion dollars just on baseball stadiums, just in NY this year alone (photo by John_from_CT)
Not all tribes are fun, or games, or even voluntary. We join them to survive. But isn’t it interesting that we stick with them longer than we need to.
When your work and your family and your community all define you, leaving the tribe isn’t an economic decision, it’s bigger than that.
And it has nothing to do with how much money you make.
Okay, time for a definition. There’s a difference between a crowd, a mob and a tribe. A crowd is a group of people. A mob is an angry crowd. And a tribe is a self-selected group of people, often with a leader, usually with a purpose, always with a way of connecting and identifying with each other, a set of norms, insiders and outsiders.
Pirates were a tribe. You knew a pirate when you saw him, and you were either a pirate or not a pirate. They had their own dialect and code and even a flag.
This crowd at a Harry Houdini performance was just a crowd. They might all be wearing hats, but they had little in common and tomorrow they’d be back to being strangers.
These country music fans, on the other hand, are a tribe. They share insider status, they are connected by values and clothing and proximity to the stage.
Hats and costumes are a giveway that you’re in the presence of a tribe, but as Apple has shown us, they’re not always required. (The shoes are a giveaway).
Where you are determines if you’re an insider or an outsider, of course. In Seattle, the guy on the right would be giving the look, not getting it.
Some tribes are shallow and silly, with weak links and a wry sense of humor.
While others run blood deep.
Warning to eager beaver marketers everywhere: A traffic jam is not a tribe. You don’t DESERVE a tribe and you don’t BUY a tribe. You earn one.
Unscientific chart with very specific dots on it... showing that as the size and quality of tribal connection increases, the value of the brand increases dramatically.
The reason tribes are interesting: leverage. Tribes give a leader of any kind, in any situation, the leverage to make change.
Take a look at Obama’s fundraising results to date. This isn’t big donor money from working an existing network. This is the direct result of creating a tribe.
Forty years ago, Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead made some decisions that changed the music industry forever. You might not be in the music business and you may never have been to a Dead concert, but the impact the Dead made impacts almost every industry, including yours. In addition to grossing more than a few hundred million dollars during their career, the Dead helped us understand how tribes work. They didn’t succeed by selling records (they only had one top 40 album). Instead, they succeeded by attracting and leading a tribe.
Piano World has more than a million posts so far. No one is really in charge, the tribe patrols, controls and invents. One example: local piano parties.
Mich Mathews is the SVP of Microsoft's Central Marketing Group. Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer have relied on her to market Microsoft for about a decade.You’ve never heard of Mich. She’s not a pundit or a touring personality. Instead, she leads a tribe of thousands of people inside of Microsoft who create and shape Micosoft’s marketing. The tribe listens to Mich, they respect her and they follow her. A hard-earned privilege and a valuable responsibility.
Bo Taylor was a gangbanger for most of his life. He was a leader of the Crips and destined to follow that tribe to jail and the grave. After the LA riots, he realized that his tribe was making his world worse, not better.
Until his death in 2008, Taylor devoted every waking minute to undoing the tribal tension between the crips and the bloods, working to help these vibrant and powerful tribemembers understand that they had a different option.
Megan Casey organizes and leads a tribe at squidoo.com. Her day is filled with nothing but that... creating a platform where people choose to show up, choose to contribute and choose to connect. Very few organizations have the guts to devote resources to this sort of work.
Gary Vaynerchuk runs Wine Library TV (http://tv.winelibrary.com/), and he has a tribe. Millions of people around the world (wait, think about that) turn to him to narrate their passion for wine. He helps them discover new wines and better understand the wines they love. But Gary doesn’t market to this audience, and he doesn’t manage them, either. He leads a tribe, instead. It’s an act of generosity and the fuel for a movement, not a marketing stunt. He doesn’t push, he leads.
Kiva vs. United Way. United Way is a great cause, focused on getting people to send money to their network of charities. Kiva is a great cause, focused on connecting tribes, focused on building movements. Which one is likely to grow?
The model (for a million years) was the factory. Factories that churn out stuff that we need to get people to buy.
As we’ve discussed before, though, the factory model is sort of broken
This is difficult for a lot of organizations and marketers. It’s difficult because it means it’s hard to be king.
Kings use arrows. They hunt people down in search of control. A king without control is no king. Photo by etohaholic.
Six degrees is real (in fact, recent research says it might be three degrees now) but it’s not what a Tribe is. Tribe is not about “friending,” it’s about something far far deeper than that.
Movements are what happens when a tribe grows, when the idea spreads, when it engulfs the status quo.
You’re not guaranteed a tribe. Tide laundry detergent doesn’t have one. Why should it!
Whole Foods thought they had a tribe, but they didn’t. They had a market of people with similar interestes and goals. Instead of connecting them and leading them, all they did was sell them stuff. And then they grew, grew to the point where it wasn’t even a crowd any more. Just customers to make money from.
It’s worth stopping right here and recapping where we are so far. TV is broken. Interruption is broken. But that’s okay, because tribes are better anyway. Faster, longer lasting, bigger, more powerful. BUT they are not free. They do not just happen. They cannot be taken for granted.
The Mormon church is the fastest growing in our history because they’re organized themselves around building their tribe. It turns out, though, that the door to door prosyletizing isn’t nearly as effective as creating tribes that grow.
Garr Reynolds is an author. He wrote one of the 250,000 books published last year. So how did his become a bestseller? I’m a fan and I don’t even know what Garr looks like. It’s not about author as celebrity, it’s about idea as connector.
Or consider the case of Avinash Kaushik. His book on Google Analytics might not sound scintillating, but it is one of the fastest selling books of the year.
Avinash accomplished this by building a tribe, a worldwide tribe of computer geeks and marketers who connected with him and with each other. His idea, so clearly presented, stands for something. And his generosity translates into reciprocity and attention. If an author can do this with no $$ and a simple idea, what can you accomplish?
The “m dot” is the official IronMan triathalon brand. Buying a slot for the Hawaii race will cost you $40,000 at auction. People get the logo tattooed on their legs. Are people tattooing your logo on their legs?
Remember the famous Groucho Marx line? “I don’t want to belong to any group that would have me as a member...” Well, now, many tribes are saying, “I don’t want to belong to any group that would have YOU as a member.” There’s a new kind of tension going on, as groups simultaneously get bigger and more exclusive. I call it the reverse groucho. photo by Christoph Marquardt.
One option is to make your tribe tighter.
The Hare Krishas work hard to tighten the tribe. Defining dress and diet and lifestyle makes it more likely that the tribe is committed. At the same time, it creates a huge hurdle for someone to join the tribe.
Another option is to make your tribe bigger.
Oprah, on the other hand, makes it really easy to join her tribe. Just turn on the TV or buy a book she recommends.
Every tribe leaders has to think about issues of exclusion and inclusion.
When you say YOU can’t join and YOU can’t join and YOU can’t join, then...
You can delete that member because you don’t approve of their politics.
And you can ignore that subgroup because of their background
And you can decide that this part of the audience just isn’t smart enough
This gets you a small, tight tribe, homogenous and beyond criticism. But it might not be what you want.
These are questions, not answers. But they are questions you haven’t been asking yourself.
Duran Duran markets the old way. DOWN. Compare that to the Grateful Dead, which sells more records, even though they disbanded years ago.
Tribes amplify your efforts. The Red Sox can’t increase profits in the stadium, so now they spend their time and money increasing loyalty among the Red Sox nation.
Would someone tattoo the name of your charity on the back of their head?
Of course, not all the dots connect. What’s actually happening is that the yellow dots talk to the other dots in the yellow tribe, ignoring the purple tribe altogether. What’s happened now is that you can join any tribe, more tribes, bigger tribes and smaller tribes, and inter-tribal communication is almost instant.
It’s tempting to talk about the tactics, about the details of how you go about orchestrating tribal behavior. It’s also useless.
It’s useless because the tactics that work for one tribe, the software or the posting speed or the things you talk about--they just don’t work for a different tribe.
Here’s a wordle word map of my book Tribes. The thing that might surprise you is that there are almost no copyable tactics in the book.
You can, for example, build statues for members of your tribe, celebrate them and embrace them. But that’s not really a rule.
It’s not a rule because you could also start a tribe with no obvious public rituals, no evangelical component and a core belief in sitting quietly and harming no one.
Al Gore tried in vain to find a tribe to get himself more than enough votes in 2000, but failed...
But when he shifted gears, he found a natural tribe, a group that was just waiting for him.
The climate project ran a school that trained thousands of people to give his presentation around the country. People traveled thousands of miles to meet each other and to be trained and certified, and now, years after the movie, continue to teach his message everywhere. From Bob in Utah to Cameron Diaz...
Steve Jobs leads a tribe. Bill Gates just made software. Making software can make you big, but it doesn’t last--the market is ruthless. Tribes, on the other hand, push you and stick with you and hate you and then forgive you.
And your tribe doesn’t have to be about technology. Let’s talk for a minute about Crossfit.com and ‘coach’ and the hundreds of thousands of tribemembers he leads around the world.
Men and women of all ages follow these ridiculous workouts
Not in fancy gyms, but in garages or wherever they can gather.
Day and night
Until their hands bleed
And then they connect online, for reinforcement and bragging rights
Laura Fitton has built a profitable consulting company, while working from home with her two kids. She did using nothing but Twitter. Now she has thousands of people following her on Twitter, connecting to each other and building businesses around her insights into social media. Think that makes it easier for her to find paying clients?
Jerry Sternin leveraged the work of Marian Zeitlin and saved tens of thousands of children in Vietnam with a simple discovery. Amplify the natural leaders and tribes will form. (photo: http://flickr.com/photos/dibdabdebi/354985778/sizes/o/in/photostream/)
Etsy has assembled a tribe. The people who buy and sell at Etsy don’t do it because they need another necklace. They do it because they belong to the tribe. Etsy leads, Etsy establishes the platform, Etsy connects, Etsy then smartly gets out of the way. Interesting note: lots of Etsy buyers are also Etsy sellers.
And you don’t have to be online, of course. The Longaberger basket company (this is actually their headquarters building) is organized around building and sustaining the tribe. (photo by sleepingbear)
Kevin Kelly’s concept of 1000 true fans is at the essence of what it means to build a tribe. 1000 fans, people who will pay money, spread the word, show up when you need them... that’s all you need to be elected mayor, have a hit record or change the future of your synagogue or restaurant.
Now, right now, I’m going to start telling what actually works. How you can actually build and grow a tribe. It’s deceptively simple, but not easy.
Consider the Kindle, for example. It’s just a product. It could have been far more, because it has the power to connect tribes of readers, to build connections where none used to be. Reading a book is primarily a solo activity, but the Kindle could have transformed that into something done by a group.
of course it’s horrible to be criticized, to be vilified, to have someone hate your work. But if you’re not worth criticizing, you’re not worth paying attention to. No one joins a tribe with a leader beloved by all, no one spends time on a movement that has nothing to prove and nowhere to go.
Do you work in an organization bigger or more bureaucratic than the Defense Department? Are you lower on the hierarchy than Thomas Barnett was? And yet, one individual, at the bottom of the totem pole, hundreds of miles from the Pentagon, armed only with a powerpoint, changed the entire organization.
Many marketers want everyone to be in their tribe. but you don’t need everyone. you don’t even need most people.
Harry Chapin played the music business game very well. It was radio that made his career. Songs that worked on radio spread on radio and reached people who had few choices in what to listen to. When those songs resonated, he had a hit.
Harry’s daughter, Jen Chapin, represents an entirely different way of thinking about the music business. Today, music isn’t about a top down, hit driven marketing effort. Instead, great musicians lead tribes, connecting fans to one another and giving those fans ideas or souvenirs or events that improve their lives.
What does Jimmy Buffett actually do for a living? He organizes a rolling party of Parrotheads. The radio doesn’t really care about Jimmy, and Jimmy doesn’t care about the radio.
Kristen Hersh offered $50 custom CDs to her tribe. No stores, no “marketing” no hype. Just a $50 hand recorded and hand burned CD. She sold more than 100 (in twenty minutes). Here’s a riff from Kristen, “... For so many years, I begged people in the music business to measure emotional impact rather than units sold. For the most part, my argument fell on deaf ears, as that didn’t appear to be a way to make money. What they didn’t appreciate was the potential revenue stream of an untapped audience. Not just the music connoisseur who rejects trends, but regular people who haven’t been told that they won’t “get” it. People like music...” It’s worth noting that her site also sells 6-pack bundles of her CDs. No better way to help tribemembers spread the word. (Photo by jamesjosephimages.com).
Three ways to build a tribe: Find the lonely, connect the seekers or create a new one where none existed.
One way to build a tribe is to connect people who think they are alone, disconnected. Del Martin , a leading lesbian activist (that’s her on the left) thought she was the “only one”, the only person who felt the way she did. It wasn’t until her twenties that she even discovered that the word lesbian existed.
Fast Company grew like a rocket... not because they CREATED a tribe, but because they gave a label and connection to a disconnected group that was eager to find others.
It’s important to understand that most tribes aren’t CREATED by those that lead them, they are merely organized around common threads that were already there. When you lead people who want to be led, and connect people who want to be connected, you win by serving.
However, sometimes you can invent a tribe. People who thought they had nothing in common, but discover that they do share a connection (this is from an Obama rally).
Nike built a new tribe. Before Nike, there weren’t millions of runners just waiting for someone to raise a flag. No, Nike built it.
The Beatles didn’t invent teenagers, they led them.
Hugo Chavez didn’t invent the disaffected majority in Venezuela. He merely led them.
Bob Marley didn’t invent rastafarianism, but he gave the idea a face, he gave the tribe someone to follow.
It’s tempting to grow your tribe by making it open and welcoming
but in fact, making it difficult to get in (and easy to get thrown out) is often more effective.
Leadership vs Control The statue of liberty isn’t able to get off her pedestal and make us do stuff. Yet the idea leads a tribe.
Nobody forms a tribe around mediocre. No one aligns themselves with others in celebration of the ordinary. People who want to settle for good enough do it by themselves, not in a group.
Tribes never (NEVER) organize around the center of the bell curve. If you go with average, with the masses, with the typical, you don’t earn a tribe.
Martin Luther gave being a heretic a good name. All he wanted was Bibles for everyone, in a language they could understand. He pushed for a faith he believed in, and was punished by religious leaders in search of control.
The reason any of us have a chance to lead a tribe is that most everyone else is sheepwalking
This is what a heretic looks like. Faith in the future of his country, contempt for the organized “religion” of the government that gets in the way of that future.
Robyn Waters was a heretic with a vision, and an organization (Target) willing to listen, at least for a while.
Jim Morrison was also a heretic.
They don’t leave flowers at the graves of boring people. Jim Morrison didn’t fit in. He was arrested and criticized and ignored and eventually became a hero. Not to everyone, but to his tribe, especially to his tribe.
The intersection of heretical thought, deep faith and obstruction from the status quo (which is often called religion) is where tribes are built
I have no doubt that we share the same faith. We believe the world will get better, that people deserve respect, that we are capable of great work, that hugging people who dislike you is a terrific strategy. And I believe that we should challenge each other, not settle, and leave the world a better place than we found it. On the other hand, it’s quite possible we have different religions.
When your dogma gets in the way of someone’s karma, religion no long serves its purpose. Photo by smeallum.
Your dogma ran over my karma
It’s about control (photo by Chad Davis).
McDonald’s has a religion, so does recreational boating. Religions are rules invented by people to amplify faith. But somewhere along the way, most religions turns into ways some people invent to gain power over others, primarily by enforcing the status quo. McDonald’s controls every element of their environment. That’s the religion of who they are and what you get.
The Amish are people of great faith. But they reinforce that faith with a large body of rules, strictly enforced (their religion). Photo by Trey Ratcliff.
But the rules and the religion can be just as strict at a disco.
Consider the case of the music business. Their faith is that people love music, that musicians need support and that smart producing and management can make a difference. The religion was that all the money had to come from record sales and all the attention from the radio. When the world changed, they clung to their religion instead of embracing a new opportunity to amplify what they really believed in. Instead of supporting the tribe, they sued the tribe.
Heretics are where movements come from. Heretics are the leaders who stand up against the status quo and create change... which attracts followers.
in a balloon factory. Unicorns make the other workers nervous, because they sort of like the quiet, steady, soft nature of work in the factory...
A heretic is like a unicorn...
When all you do is say no, establish boundaries and enforce the rules, you don’t leave any room for faith or passion or heretics.
So we make lots of rules, hopefully to keep people from doing stupid things
but heretics figure out which rules are worth ignoring
the easiest thing, by far, is the little no. The little no that tells you what not to try or what’s impossible or what’s not worth it. Leaders understand that with not much more effort than a hundred little no’s, they can embrace a big yes instead.
Red Maxwell is a talented graphic designer, but he’s also a parent concerned about curing Juvenile Diabetes. He leads a vibrant and growing tribe of other parents, spreading the word, giving support, raising money and helping people focus on a cure.
Jackson Pollock was a heretic. He broke rules, and did it with passion and with faith. Faith in art, faith in creativity, faith in the people who would see his work.
Rob Bell is a heretic as well. He doesn’t get 10,000 people to a church service because he’s a great marketer or has a cool sign or a clever newsletter. He does it because there’s a tribe of people he connects, who want to be connected, who want to feel their faith and who won’t let the status quo of that religion get in the way.
Meghan McDonald leads a tribe, but without yelling or giving big speeches or intimidating anyone.
Martin Luther King was a community organizer. A heretic. A leader. And a brilliant marketer.
The founding fathers were community organizers as well. They had no ability to control, only to inspire.
Here are seven characteristics that many leaders share.
These are my business cards. The back of each card has a picture on it... a picture of a different member of my tribe. I don’t sell books and then find new readers. What I do is find new words for my existing readers. Who inspires you? Melanie Richeson inspires me. She’s a reader, a member of the triiibes forum and a wedding photographer. When I write, I write for her (though we’ve never met). A tighter tribe teachers you how to market to individuals, not to the world.
And here are six things that the members of a tribe desperately want
Tribes make you smarter. They also help you do better work. A heretic with a tribe accomplishes so much because the tribe keeps pushing her.
So, Starbucks blew it. They magically found a tribe, a previously disconnected tribe, a tribe that was looking for a place and an identity. And instead of nurturing and connecting this tribe, they merely chose to sell more coffee. What a shame. What could Starbucks have done? They could have said, “How would 2 million people, well off people, traveling people, connecting people, idea merchants... how could these 2 million people benefit from 7,000 remote gathering places? How do we create a place that they seek out, spend time and money and attention in?”
Twitter and Facebook and group meetings and newsletters are all TOOLS. Tools matter, because tools impact the way you interact. You don’t need to use every tool, but every tool you use you must use well.
Little Missmatch started as a goofy idea for mismatched socks, but transformed into the uniform for a tribe.
Some twelve year olds love this stuff. And they quickly discover each other, and when they do, they discover that they like each other. Another tribe is born.
“ for” vs. “to”. Are you marketing things TO people, at them, are you targeting markets and focusing on churn and product sales? Or do you spend your time doing things FOR the tribe?
Nathan Winograd found a tribe of pet lovers just waiting to be organized, eager to be connected. Year after year, millions of dogs and cats are murdered. But not by Nathan. Not by his tribe. One city at a time, a movement is taking hold, and it’s changing a hundred-year old tradition that needed changing.
We have plenty of people on Earth. And lots of them are disconnected, or isolated, or wanting more. We’re all waiting to join another tribe, a better tribe, a tribe that will make a difference. All that’s missing is a heretic to lead that tribe. All that’s missing, of course, is... you.
The punchline is that the only way to lead a tribe is to lead it. And that means that marketing is now about leadership, about challenging the status quo and about connecting people who can actually make a difference. If you can't do that, don't launch your site, your product, your non-profit or your career.