You have an ‘idea’ , ‘product’ or a ’cause’ you are passionate about , ask the next question who is your tribe ? In the 1980’s Beatles created a different kind of counterculture music rooted in skiffle , beat and 1950’s rock and roll , their sound incorporated elements of classical music and traditional pop. The group revolutionised many aspects of music industry and were often publicised leaders of the era’s youth and sociocultural movement .
They changed the game and built their tribe , rather the tribe already existed , the youth who believed in counterculture , they provided the leadership to connect the tribe with different kind of music.
Facebook recently launched its Facebook shop to help small businesses to set up their digital stores and get found on social media . I had an idea on similar lines a few years back ,as a Co-Founder of a digital payments startup I built a social commerce platform on top of the digital payments solution , it was an end-to end solution from setting up a digital store to checkouts and digital payments . The idea was as simple as click-share-sell .
One of the first customers to the platform was Nainital Bikers , who as the name suggests was into bike rental business in Nainital a scenic tourist location . He had a big challenge of getting travellers to book his bikes and make the payment before they travelled , many times they would call and book the bike but then if they did not travel , he would end up making a loss of day in and rental revenue . He came to know of our service through a story we had shared on Facebook. Nainital Bikers was the representative of our tribe , small business owners across small towns of India who wanted to expand beyond their geography and were looking for an end to end solution to quickly put up their online store and get bookings and payments online . The tribe for the solution we were building was out there we had to reach them .
Know the persona of your tribe
One of my clients is in healthcare , I spent a lot of time initially meeting the existing customers , listening to their stories , understanding their pain point and more importantly observing things they said and also did not say . This is one of the qualities I learnt early in my career as a marketeer and it ‘Empathy’ , I would get into the shoes of my clients and feel their pain .I have been told I am highly anecdotal , I gather stories . I feel this is an important trait for anyone in marketing or for that matter in business , one needs to have the ability of keen observation and story listening.
Even if you are leading a cause you have your tribe , those that believe in your cause . PAWS is a small charity organisation run by Nilesh Bange, he runs his NGO with volunteers from campuses , he does this by reaching out to those who have soft corner for animals , similarly he has managed to get celebrities who care for animals associate with his cause . He does not have big budgets but he is very smart with identifying his tribe and connecting them with his cause.
Know who is not your tribe
One of the biggest mistakes businesses do is include everyone into their definition of tribe . Coming back to the example of the healthcare client it was clear that our tribe needed to be well educated as some of the concepts covered in the program that needed to be followed required deeper understanding of the principles, so we dropped those who did not meet the qualifier as our tribe. We would have wasted marketing effort on someone who would finally not pick up the service and if they did , would not be a satisfied clients.
For Nilesh who runs PAWS it would be wasted effort to try and enrol those who are passionate about the cause of environment or children education , he would rather focus on engaging his crowd of animal lovers.
Your business cannot be everything to everybody , it is highly inefficient , yet initially it seems difficult to say no and this can be one big mistake that gets you off track in building your tribe . Yet this is the most important thing to do , stay focused. The healthcare client I worked with did this thing brilliant right, they focused on the diabetes segment and worked on constant innovation and improvements in supporting lifestyle changes and medical support to patients , though the end result was also weight loss for many and that too is a big segment , the focus was never lost , it stayed sharply focused on diabetes. This allowed the team to master a narrow niche and carve out brand reputation as being experts .
Also the client had multiple programs aimed for the same segment this too was streamlined . What do you stand for and what you offer has to be a narrow focus. This also allows for sharper communication and targeting on social media.
There is a temptation to keep adding the list of services , this defuses the idea of a tribe. Also it does not help build sharp mastery of the subject.
In the passion economy your passion is the value you add and you need to be good at your game . If you are not adding value , you are not valuable. Your passion must add value to your tribe for you to build your tribe. The Doctor I work with in healthcare is passionate for getting patients off medicines by following a healthy lifestyle and he puts out a lot of valuable educational content free on his YouTube channel. Few of my friends are passionate life coaches who freely share knowledge that would help their tribe and they have been doing this for years . One of them has built a strong following on Linkedin, one of them who is in fitness has built good number of fans on Instagram.
From a sales perspective this could be seen as a funnel , starting with free offer , leading to small paid trial and then subscription or purchase .
How would this work for a cause ? There seems an imbalance between the giver an receiver as if the giver is on a higher pedestal , but if you connect with those who identify with your cause the engagement adds value to their soul. they want to be associated with the cause as it nurtures them . I have also found that volunteering for a cause develops leadership skills in people . If you ever face depression or anxiety one of the best ways to find perspective is to engage with those that are going through challenge , the experience can change you.
1000 Raving fans
There is another model one can work on and that is of 1000 raving fans. If you have been regularly adding value you could build 1000 raving fans , this is not an exact number but it gives you a order of magnitude . You don’t need millions of followers to succeed at what you do, it is fine to build a tribe of 1000 raving fans . This is a different way to build business , you need to work more deeply and add value to 1000 individuals. It is these 1000 fans who could subscribe to your service paying a substantial fees worth your time or become your core volunteers to spread your idea . But be sure these are fans who you engage and add deeper value.
Spiritual tribes understand this well , there is an inner circle , those that are close to the Guru , the students who believe it is their duty to spread the word .I had seen some employees in organisations I worked in give up their comfortable jobs and careers to support such spiritual tribes , they were completely convinced about the work and became champions for the teachings and adding tribe members.
Your differentiator is you , if you are in a crowded market place where there are hundreds who offer the service you offer , you need to be authentic and find your niche . Don’t try to copy , build your style , do something that is different , that is you , that comes from your passion , find your unique niche . Don’t chase money , chase your passion , add value , be authentic , build your niche, money will follow.
One Man can change the world
So can a woman , a tribe is a movement , the movement could be getting people live a healthier lifestyle , listen to a different kind of music , run marathons after 60 , live an abundant life , drop materialism and simplify life with minimalism, become financially free with value investing , make everyday giving an habit , volunteer to teach , live their passion .
Don’t chase money add value to your tribe every day. You need to be persistent, tribes are not built overnight , you need to be out there consistently adding value , learning , improving , making a difference to your tribe.
Yes , one man or a woman can change the world , begin a movement , build a tribe . Begin Now !
#passionproject is an idea to share my over three decades of marketing experience and work with some of the most passionate business and social sector leaders to help ignite and passion in individuals , businesses , and causes. I believe in the idea that “you are the creator and creation is within you”.