I was fortunate enough to be asked by Gerhard Gschwandtner, of Selling Power to speak this week at his Sales Leadership Conference in Philadelphia. The highlight of my day was listening to Seth Godin, blogger and author on topics b2b sales and marketing folks devour.
One part of Seth's talk was on building a tribe. Not sure I've got the quote verbatim, but basically he was saying "marketers that build tribes of loyal prospects and customers will win." He cited the Apple tribe -- all of us who rush out and buy new apple products just because. I happen to be a member of that tribe.
It got me thinking, though. How can b2b marketers, especially those who DON'T have audiences of millions or hundreds of thousands, build a tribe? How can upstart, small- to mid-sized companies build a tribe? How can even large companies with very specific offerings build a tribe?
I was bouncing the topic around with my friend and colleague, Tim Dempsey (@tdempsey) of Elastic Brands, and he shared, "First and foremost, you have to define and articulate your tribe’s essence or mission. A tribe is not a random pack of individuals – a tribe shares a bond, whether that’s around design and usability, like Apple, or around a technology like an open source project. Tribe members are joining something. Before going out to build your tribe, identify what it is that will bind your tribe members together. And repeat that message throughout your communication with prospects and members."
- Bring value to tribal prospects who aren't customers yet. Give away lots of relevant info through blogs, twitter, industry events, etc. Just follow the HubSpot marketing machine for how they spread the Orange Kool Aid and built a large and loyal tribe of inbound marketers.
- Gather, grasp and retain every prospect or client, every user or remote individual who touches your company and bring them together virtually. LinkedIn Groups. Build an online community.
- Create buzz. Recruit those who create buzz for you and reward them through rebuzz or other methods. Most buzzers love to be pumped up socially. Retweet. Quote them in blog articles. Write success stories with them. Prop them up. Thank them for buzzing.
- Encourage buzzers and tribe members to share stories. As soon as you find out a tribe member has a blog, find a way to help them with a blog article. Get them to interview your CEO or Evangelist.
- Make it cool to be in the tribe. Be different. Create awesome reasons for people to like you. Be hip. Youtube videos. Viral fun. Send fun gifts to known tribe members.
- Network. Introduce tribe members to each other. Host tweet-ups, or networking events. Build that online community.
- Be genuine. If you find yourself trying too hard, your audience will sniff you out. Don't look like you hired an agency. I recently saw a Fortune 500 company do this and, whadda ya know, 55 unique twitter addresses tweeted the exact same text at the exact same moment (sounds like an ingenious agency idea to me).
- Lead with leaders. Find the leaders of your tribe and get them to lead by example. Encourage them to step out in front of you occasionally. Trust them.
- Create cool. Be it a t-shirt or cap or stickers or water bottles. People like cool. SxSW is filled with hip tribal attendees who would give their right arm for the coolest t-shirt of the week.
- Invite two friends. Every time you run anything, make your tribe members bring two friends. Grow exponentially.
- Share. Make it easy for your tribe to share ideas. Be it Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn Groups, or your blog. Sharing spreads the word.