Community building

Find Your Tribe

At the end of the day, social media marketing is about finding the people for whom your products and services are a great fit. It means not only being seen by people who need or want for your stuff, but it means showing up in a way that appeals to them, speaking in the way they want to be spoken to, and about forming a relationship. It’s all about interaction and the establishment of trust.

Relationships and trust in business have always been cornerstones of success, but with so much information available online, they’ve also become a filtering tool to help us make decisions. One of the reasons social media marketing is so powerful is because most people will trust a recommendation from a friend, and the interactive nature of social media makes those kinds of recommendations so easy, it’s become part of our social behaviour.

The concept of finding your tribe is all about leading with value and generosity, and being known for more than just what you sell. The goal is to establish genuine relationships and for people to not only trust you enough to buy from you, but to also care enough to tell their friends and to become loyal and true advocates for what you do. Therefore, it’s not about mass marketing and trying to appeal to everyone, but quite the opposite.

Pre-internet, particularly pre-social media, marketing was predominantly mass marketing. It was all about reaching as many people as possible in the hope that enough of them would buy your stuff over your competitor’s. It was more about short term sales, less about the lifetime value of the relationship you have with your customers and not the way any savvy business owner should approach their marketing today.

Savvy business owners approach their marketing with a Tribe mentality. They set out to find the people they can best serve and they ask themselves questions like, how can I make a difference? How can I help my tribe? How can I lead them? How can I give them value? How can I reach out and help them solve their problems? But most of all, what do they value and how can I connect on that?


Those answers will be different for every business and that’s precisely why there is a unique tribe for every business, and precisely how and why you can stand out even with a boring, commodity-type business in a sea of competition. It’s because when you find the people you really want to serve and design everything you do around serving them better than anyone else, your marketing will no longer feel like marketing. To you it’ll feel like purpose and to your tribe, it’ll feel like a gift. Imagine the feeling of standing out like that.

Thank you for reading - I really hope you've found some value in this. If you have something you'd like to share, I'd love it if you'd comment below, or if you want to have a chat about content for your Tribe, email me at andrea@pepperstreetsocial.com, or click here to fill in the contact form on my Work page. I'd love to hear from you.

Andrea

7 reasons why your existing customers are your number one marketing priority

Your existing customers are gold. They’ve already voted to spend their time and money with you, or on your product or service, and this is no small thing. No matter how wonderful you think you are, no matter how great your product or service is, or whether it’s without a doubt the best there is, your customers usually have many, many other options. Options not just in terms of your competition, but in terms of not purchasing that product or service at all. In a world of endless products, noise, promotion and global markets, the fact they chose your thing is rather something, and no matter how big or small you are, gone are the days when you could get away with thinking that providing your customers with what they paid for was all you owed them.

 

Sure, there are product and service categories, indeed whole industries that are characterised by highly transactional, commodity-type markets where on face value you could be forgiven for thinking deep customer loyalty, engagement and community are not necessary. But I would argue it’s just as important. Ok so maybe we’re not talking about group hugs and exclusive membership programmes for some sectors, but solid, reliable customer service goes a long, long way, especially when you’re trying to differentiate somewhat generic products in a price-sensitive market. The loyalty you foster in your existing customers might just be the thing that sets you apart and affords your brand the longevity your competition lacks.

 

Here are 7 reasons that your existing customers should be your number 1 marketing priority;

 

1. Because your existing customers hold the key to getting more like them. The way they think, the reason they choose your brand, the problem your brand solves for them, or the desire it satisfies, is all stuff you need to know and your existing customers are THE people to tell you. Understanding your existing customers even better than they understand themselves is the way you find more customers like them. Gold.

 

2. Because your customers can tell you what else they want or what you could be doing better, how to make them happier, what additional products or services they’d love you to create, you have an enormous opportunity to respond to exactly what they ask for. Don’t follow the market. Responding directly to your own customers is how you become a market leader … but you need customers to do that.

 

3. Because your customers actually want to engage. Meaningful engagement leads to trust and loyalty, which is not only very hard for your competitors to compete with, but because people want their choices to reflect their values, it turns out they’re ever so willing to be loyal and trusting in exchange for that. It’s a basic human need.

 

4. Because through that dialogue and engagement and making your customers feel like they’re really cared about, they get to know the personality and the meaning behind the brand and that takes you from being known about to being loved. Again, gold.

 

5. Because your existing customers are the ones who are going to tell their friends. Treat them like royalty and they’ll do your marketing for you in the most powerful, trusted and resonating way possible. Remember word-of-mouth? Well, nothing’s changed - it’s still the holy grail. When your customers do your marketing for you, they’ve gone beyond customers and have become advocates. Gold with diamonds.

 

6. Because your existing customers are not only your customers today, but by the way you make them feel, they’re highly likely to also be your customers well into the future where every contact they have with your brand continues to nourish a legitimate relationship. Gold.

 

7. Because it’s your existing customers, that through trust, loyalty and sharing, become your community, your tribe, and that in itself is a magnetic force for attracting new customers, followers and advocates.

 

The way I see it, your existing customers are without a doubt your number one marketing priority and that’s because at the heart of each of the 7 points above, are basic human needs that always come before and underlie any business plan, strategy or transaction. Business is about human relationships and it’s only through nurturing the existing relationships that we can attract more of the same. 

 

Don’t ignore the people who’ve already given you their time and money while you scout the masses for more traffic, more conversions, more customers, more sales. Start with the gold you’ve already got because in doing so you increase the longterm value of your customers and expand the intrinsic value of your brand. This inside-out approach is the bedrock of any good marketing strategy and massively contributes to your results and growth into the future being much, much more reliable, not to mention more meaningful. 

Photo credit: "First customers" by Stavos via Flickr

 

The Secret to Ninja Marketing Strategies

Feeling like you want to pump up your marketing efforts? You know, really put the kick into it, bust out? Be everywhere, be amazing, make waves, get noticed and of course, sell more stuff?

 

Hell yeah! I want ninja tactics too! Yes! Ninja tactics put the R into ROI, the C in conversions and the capital T into traffic. Gimme some of that fo’ sho'!

 

But here’s the thing … even with your black belt and and all your impressive chops and kicks, even Ninjas look kind of pathetic if they’re just dancing around in front of you trying to get your attention for reasons apparently unknown, right?

 

Ninjas need context. Connection and engagement is always your goal because tactics without connection will be ignored, especially if you’re employing disruptive marketing tactics. 

 

Disruptive tactics, designed to push in, to shout for attention even though the product or information is not sought, are, on their own, risky business. Tactics like this are likely to be ignored for the simple reason that we’re overloaded by them and have therefore become very good at tuning them out. Without the underlying reason and meaning of your brand message communicated in the way, place and time your audience wants to be communicated to, your odds of being ignored are very, very high. Awkward Ninja.

 

Not only can this be extremely expensive, but worse still, it can actually damage your brand. They may ignore you, but they’ll probably associate that disruption and subsequent ignoring with your brand and be even more likely to ignore it in the future. This is not sustainable and it doesn’t feel good for anyone. We’ve got to stop being the things that people are trying to ignore and start focusing on the things they want. Pare back and lean in, Ninjas - you can’t get your black belt without connection because all that flashy jumping around in front of people just makes them feel uncomfortable and annoyed unless you connect with them with meaning and context.

 

Tactics without connection are just that, tactics. Tactics alone aren’t enough - they’re not sustainable.

 

Tactics that focus on connecting with, engaging your audience and building community is what makes your tactics Ninja. Being laser focused and precisely efficient starts with genuine connection and that’s the secret that puts your tactics on steroids. 

Photo credit: 'Ninja' by Dani Armengol Garreta via Flickr

But I'm an introvert!

I'd love to do marketing and get my sales rocking, but I'm an introvert, it's just not me.

 

Oh how I hear you. I know it because I’ve felt the same. But guess what. 

 

What if I told you it doesn’t matter?

What if I told you it’s not even close to the point?

What if I told you in fact that it could be an advantage to feel like that?

What if I told you that having an aversion to self promotion and branding could help to set you apart?

What if I said that all that matters is that you believe in what you’re doing - believe in your product, your service, your mission, your art, your message and let that come through in everything you do?

 

Well it’s true and here’s why …

 

Blurting out messages to the world at large and vying for attention from the masses by disrupting people in their everyday lives is just adding to the noise and clutter. And there’s a lot of it. So much in fact, that people are getting really good at tuning it out, ignoring it, pressing delete and carrying on. We have so much noise and so much connectivity to technology and devices and marketing, that what we’re really looking for, what really stands out and gets our attention is real connection. REAL being the operative word.

 

I love working with people who are introverted or shy, who don’t like to promote themselves and who worry that marketing is, well, too ‘out there’. I love it because these people tend to be much more inclined to look inside first. They usually feel much more comfortable with being in touch with their passion and their reason for doing what they do and much more inclined to tell an authentic story and make connections they’re genuinely proud of. 

 

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not bagging extroverts here by any means, but as far as introverts and extroverts go, it’s just that introverts are usually much less attracted to the big splash, the glitz and the slick than our more extroverted comrades … and that’s fine, absolutely fine. You can do a killer job of splash, glitz and slick, but you certainly don’t have to if that’s just not you. As long as your message is coming from, has its roots in something deeper and the message is genuine, it doesn’t matter if its loud and flashy, or quietly compelling. Unfortunately though, being starstruck can sometimes mean the genuine core drivers are overlooked and you end up with empty noisy glitz that gets tuned out.

 

The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service sells itself
— Peter Drucker

That famous Peter Drucker quote, exemplifies the connection philosophy and starting on the inside first. How can you have any hope of achieving this if you don’t pour your energy into connecting with your customers? Pour your energy into knowing them, understanding them, delighting them? And I always circle back to the fact that in order to do that, you have to know yourself first and that’s because you can’t have genuine connection when you’re not being genuine. Being able to sniff out a fake is part of we human’s incredible skill of tuning out masses of noise.

 

In all this noise, we seem to have moved away from the understanding that it’s the connection we make with our customers that’s the important thing. Hands down, no doubt about it. For every product or service you sell, your customers will usually have a plethora of other similar options available to them. What they want, what sets you apart is YOU. It’s the connection they seek and a perfect product at the perfect price point isn’t enough because you’re not the only one. What keeps them coming back is connection and trust.

 

Feeling uneasy about disruptive, attention-seeking marketing tactics is a good thing and it doesn’t matter a twitch if you’re an introvert or an extrovert. Starting on the inside, focusing on your existing customers is not only a viable alternative, but probably a better way to go. By being cognisant of your true mission and making the creation of a strong and loyal community your ultimate goal, you’re building a brand around a culture that’s deeply connected to the customers you serve. When your customers are deeply connected to a brand, or a cause or mission if you don’t like the term brand, then they become evangelists. Imagine that! Imagine YOUR customers and clients being so stoked with what you do that they’re out there voluntarily telling the world about it. I want that, don’t you?

 

So please introverts, don’t think marketing is not for you. Marketing is in everything you do so if there’s stuff you don’t feel right about, it’s ok to go inside and get closer to what matters to you. Delight the customers you already have. Ask for their help, let them know you care, seek to understand them. Be genuine and build trusting relationships in a way that feels authentic to you. Build your brand from the inside around a culture of shared values. Get passionate about it and do it exceptionally well. This is the type of marketing that both you and your customers will flourish in. 

Photo credit: How Not To Manage An Introvert by Nguyen Hung Vu via Flickr

Who's on your bus?

Imagine having a passionate, engaged, creative and loyal tribe of people behind you who care about what you do and who want you to keep doing your particular form of greatness.

 

Imagine if you weren’t sure about the next turn to take, or how the last turn you took was going down, you just had to ask your team. A team who were already riding on your bus and were therefore invested not only in where you’re going, but in getting there safely, and with a bit of spunk.

 

Imagine if in the hard times, the times when you’re personally stretched and challenged, you had a crew to remind you to keep going, that what you do matters. Imagine if serving your community was a two-way street that nourished you with as much of a sense of purpose and belonging as them. Imagine if the meaning, beauty and importance of what you do was reflected back to you by a tribe of people who ‘get it’, who ‘get’ you. Inspiring, huh - seriously, who wouldn’t want that?

 

And there you have it, in a nutshell - who wouldn’t want that? The fact is that it’s a basic human need to want that. We are all infants and we just want to be snuggled (as Chase Reeves from The Fizzle Show perfectly sums it up in episode 002 - funny!). But all jokes aside, for all its ‘touchy-feeliness’, the need to belong and to be a part of something that matter is a fundamental human truth and that for me is why working with that natural law, instead of against it, not only feels good, but it makes a difference.

 

I’m absolutely passionate about the fact that if you have something to tell the world about, something to contribute, something you care about, something you believe in, your number one priority in getting that message out there is to find your tribe, build your community. Speak in the way that’s you about the stuff you care about and immediately you start something. People are inspired by people who care about a thing and who are passionate about that thing, even if the ‘thing’ isn’t what they’re into so much. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, that’s because it’s not the ‘thing’ as much as the meaning and connection created around that thing. It’s about the shared story.

 

What I love about this way of thinking is that it keep things real and its based on real human emotion. I hope, and feel that we have, got to point in time and evolution where people want real meaning in their lives. We want to know other people’s stories and we want to believe that the choices we make and the visions and dreams we have can make a difference. I believe that when we buy stuff, most of us would like to know that it was produced ethically and that in making that buying decision we’re also somehow making a small contribution to the expansion of that cause and that it reflects something of our own values and principles. What’s lovely is that we live in an age where that’s not only becoming more possible, but more common.

 

When people connect with an idea, shared values, and a vision, bonds are formed and big things can happen; indeed the world can be changed. But don’t be put off by that lofty ideal - everything, but everything starts small - from little things big things grow. So whether you’re a small business just trying to establish your customer base, or a big business with a slick brand and marketing plan, or just starting out on your own creative endeavour, focusing on growing your community first can start today, right now. 

 

Start telling your story, the real story, in everything you do. Go out of your way for a customer, or a friend who supports you - make them feel how much you care about them for caring about your thing. Share something real via your social media followers, or face to face, over the phone, or by email. Show your gratitude. Share your vision. Personally ask one of your customers for their opinion. Be prepared to feel vulnerable, to look silly, to go out of your comfort zone, but just be real. Let creating a strong, loyal and passionate tribe be your guiding light in all your actions. Have the courage to be the leader for what you believe in. Reach out and connect - initiate something small right now. And then repeat.

 

And you know what? If leading a tribe that’s going to change the world all seems a little too far fetched for you, then ask yourself this; how would it feel if I took this this approach anyway?

 

Maybe it’d just feel a little bit more YOU. Maybe it’d feel just a little bit more real. Maybe it’d make your messages a little bit more personal. Maybe you’d feel just a little bit more proud of what you do. Maybe you’d inspire yourself. Maybe you’d remind yourself why you started doing this in the first place. Maybe you’d find that meaning and purpose reflected back to you. And maybe, just maybe your ‘marketing' would feel good again.

 

Establishing your community is where it’s at. Clean up your bus and invite them onboard.

 

If you want to find out more about building communities and the ‘tribe’ philosophy, Seth Godin has a really great free resource at http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/files/TribesQA2.pdf.

 

And you’ll find Episode 002 of The Fizzle Show here; http://fizzle.co/sparkline/finding-your-voice-pt-2-the-fizzle-show-002. This episode is not solely about tribes and community, but their belief in this philosophy comes through in everything they teach. 

Photo credit: School Bus by Beny Shlevich via Flickr