The Journey to Better Marketing (Part 4) — Building Community

This is the first installment of a five-part series on the notes I made while reading This is Marketing by Seth Godin. This is Marketing provides a holistic view of the purpose and function of marketing with insights into how it can be leveraged to do great work in a changing world.

After reading the book, I grouped my notes into sections and expanded on the points so I could better understand the ideas and have a reference to use in the future. I share them with you in hopes they get you as excited as I am about Marketing and Brand Development, and maybe introduce a new idea or two that helps you down the road.

Building Community

This section is about the importance of building community around the change you wish to create so that you can provide a place for those you serve to come together.

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The Community

Seth says “connected tribes are more powerful than disconnected ones” and that we should seek to unite those we serve. When we set out to build our tribe there are some things you should be keeping in mind about community, and your role as its leader.

One of these ideas is that it is not your tribe. You are building a space for these people to come together, but you do not own this space. The community is not owned by anyone, and leaders may come and go throughout its existence.

The community will survive if you go away — so if you want to lead it, you must make sure to continuously invest in the community to help them move forward towards the change they are seeking to make. When you invest in the community, they will show you what they need, giving you more opportunities to serve them. From there you can create the products and services that will help them achieve their goals.

Leading Community

Seth says that “manipulation is the tribe killer” — so make sure you are leading with authenticity and a true passion for the change that the community is trying to achieve. As a leader of a community, you will have a lot of power identifying and magnifying messages around shared interests and goals. You will even have the ability to create the language that will be used within the community.

It will be your responsibility to make connections happen within the community, and drive it’s growth over time. The movement you create will eventually start to fade and you will have to continue to reinvest in the community.

It is this need for constant reinvestment that Seth likes to say that Marketers are Farmers. You’re putting lots of effort, energy, and resources into your community in the beginning to get it started, then to keep it growing, until you get to a point where you can finally harvest and see your return. The cycle then repeats.

Status in Community

Seth also talks about the idea of inclusion in the community being utilized as a status symbol for those who are a part of it. The fact that someone is in the community gives them a higher social status than those who are not in the community.

It’s an idea which can bind those in the community together, keeping them moving forward with you as you deliver new products and services to help them achieve the change they are looking for. It can also be used to create desire for those outside of the community to join, to receive the special status symbol of being a part of the community.

The key is to figure out how to create that feeling within the community and those outside of it. What types of messaging, perks, special symbology, or flags can people rally behind to let people know they are part of this great thing.

The Network Effect

Seth says that “the network effect is the primary driver of sharing”, and it can apply to your products, services, or community. If being in your community, understanding it’s ideas and language makes it easier for people to get something done or achieve a goal — they will want others to join the community too.

An example of this is use of an instant messaging app. The more of your friends that use a messaging app (like Instagram), the more value it has to you, and the more you will use it. People would rather use one app to see what all of their friends are doing and connect with them, instead of having to use three or four apps.

Once you’ve found out how to make being in your community better when others are in it too, you have to create messaging for people to use to help spread awareness. Help people in your community to know what they will tell others about what the community does. Help them to understand why they will want others to join — incase the benefit is not immediately seen by them. If you can do this, you can leverage the network effect to grow your community.

Symbols

Seth says that “a logo is a visual reminder of your promise”, and it is up to you to create symbols which live up to that job. When you create a symbol, you must understand it’s meaning, and what it will be used for.

Your symbols are something that your community can rally behind, something they can identify with — and when they are shown to the world, the right people can recognize and relate to them, prompting them to come to your community.

When setting out to create these symbols it is best to start with something familiar enough to be recognized, then change it a little. Changed enough so its meaning is clear and distinct, but similar enough that it is not completely foreign and likely to be ignored by those who see it for the first time.

At the end of the day, symbols are another powerful tool you can use to help build and grow your community, to help you drive the change you wish to make.

Written by

Principal & Creative Director of MattCreative.ca. Co-Founder of Houseable. I help businesses create and grow their Brand with Technology, Marketing, and Design

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