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Live from MIXX: Seth Godin on brand ‘tribes’

3 min read

Digital Technology

At Seth Godin’s keynote this morning at the IAB’s MIXX event in New York City, he discussed the importance on focusing on “what’s now” in marketing and advertising, not “what’s next.”

So what is now, you ask? Godin discussed the notion that marketers have put themselves in a bit of a predicament. Over the course of the past 50 to 60 years, marketers have learned that the more frequently they hit customers with a message about a product or service, the more they are inclined to purchase. But in doing so, they have cannibalized their own efforts. The challenge now is in finding ways to reach people who have been trained to ignore ads. Godin noted, “there is too much clutter … because we’ve branded ourselves to death.”

Savvy consumers no longer want to be spammed with information about a product, service, or experience; they want to feel a connection to it. Herein lies Godin’s key takeaway: People need a reason to purchase, to be part of something bigger, to join a tribe.

On this blog, we talk a lot about building communities on the social Web — and the notion of “tribe” is not that different, but it transcends social media. Godin’s idea is about building brand ambassadors and communities of people that align themselves with your offering, not about offering the best price or the next big thing. It is about becoming a leader of an existing tribe or creating a movement and community in support of your offering.

Some great examples he noted included:

  • Nike: People always had running shoes, but Nike created a tribe of runners who are proud to jog wearing a swoosh because of what “Nike” represents to athletes driven to achieve glory.
  • The Beatles: Teenagers already were a tribe, but needed leadership. The band capitalized on the opportunity to build loyalty with a preexisting group seeking a champion for their message.
  • Zappos: Zappos doesn’t sell shoes — it sells an experience that customers appreciate and want to share. It’s not about the shoes, it’s about the principle of service.

There are many types of tribes that connect people across the world on and offline. The role of marketers now is to reach these communities and deliver them value instead of interruption, becoming involved and giving back — fundamentally enriching experiences with a brand presence.

Image credit, BeholdingEye, via iStock Image