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Ian Brodie

Ian Brodie teaches consultants, coaches and other professionals to attract and win their ideal clients by becoming seen as authorities in their field.


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Are You Building Your Tribe Yet

Posted on 18th August 2011.

I‘m going to talk about a marketing strategy that's not for everyone.

It's hugely powerful, perhaps the most powerful strategy there is. But as I say, not for everyone.

The strategy is to build a tribe, a following, a “gang” – call it what you will.

Seth Godin wrote about it in his book Tribes (though to be honest, I think he overcomplicated it).

I touched on it when I wrote about Authority Marketing recently – establishing yourself as a leading expert in your field. Building a tribe goes one step further.

Building a tribe means creating a following of people who not only respect you, not only believe you know what you're talking about – but support you, want you to succeed.

Or more exactly, they want what you stand for to succeed.

You see, creating a tribe is about more than you. It's about a cause, a higher purpose.

To build a tribe you have to stand for something, champion something.

Back in the 80s my wife used to shop a lot at Body Shop. It wasn't just that they had great products. It was what they stood for.

Notwithstanding the later controversies about whether they were quite as green as they made out, at the time it felt good to support a company which stood for something we believed in.

Of course, the products had to be great too. But later, when the high street stores started bringing out comparable (and cheaper) “natural” brands we stayed loyal.

We felt we were part of a cause. And we were evangelists to those who hadn't “seen the light”. We identified with the people behind the business and what they were trying to do.

Can “normal” businesses like yours or mine inspire the same fierce loyalty and feelings of belonging?

Sure we can.

We all stand for something when you think about it. None of us is purely in it just for the money.

I interviewed consultant John Seddon recently for my Authority Marketing podcast series (you can listen here: John Seddon Interview). John's company is hugely successful and they win a lot of improvement projects with the public sector.

But they don't just win them because they're good at what they do. They win them because Seddon is an evangelist for systems thinking led improvement. He has a passion for improving the public sector ‘the right way” and is fiercly critical of the status quo. That's attracted a tribe of people who buy in to his philosophy.

My friend Charlie Green is the go-to guy for improving trust in business. But he hasn't just got there because he's an expert in trust. He's got there because he has a point of view on what businesses should be doing to build trust – on what's right and what's wrong.

Another friend, Tom Searcy, leads the field in advising companies on winning big sales through RFPs. But he's not a cold technician. He's a cheerleader and advocate for small businesses fighting against their bigger competitors to win those big sales.

Whose cause do you champion?

Perhaps you're a leadership trainer looking to unleash all the hidden talents in organisations. or a career coach who loves to help people find their calling. or a supply chain consultant on a mission to cut waste and bureacracy. Or a marketing consultant looking to generate growth in neglected inner cities.

For myself, over the years, I've seen myself becoming more and more an advocate of “pain free” ways of marketing and selling. Of approaches that allow professionals to win clients without being pushy or sleazy – and actually enjoying what they do. A champion of “pain free marketing” as it were.

What about you? Do you have such a passion?

Because if you actually stand for something, if you can build a tribe around that, then marketing becomes a whole lot easier and more pleasant.