“Everyone is not your customer” is one of those mighty fine pearls of wisdom from marketing guru Seth Godin. So, word to the wise: you should listen!

The age of mass marketing has ended. The age of tribal marketing has begun. The foghorn of traditional media, radio, television and newspapers, doesn’t dominate the world like it used to.

We have digital media to thank for that. With its more balanced approach to personalised and large-scale marketing.

Marketers can no longer blast “buy, buy, buy” into the microphone. The democratising Internet has given audiences a platform to answer back. And they’re asking, “why?”

Why should I trust your brand? Why would I choose your product? Why would I follow your social platforms? Why? When there are so many others to choose from.

There’s a world wide web with millions of voices. All trying to be heard. This means marketing, the digital kind, has become more competitive than ever. Pure sales no longer works.

It’s the digital arena of competition that makes brand loyalty more important than ever. So, finding those loyalists should be your number one priority. You need to find your brand’s tribe.


What is a tribe?


Tribal marketing

Tribes, technology and marketing


Human society began with tribes and not much has changed in our biology since. Despite years of societal evolution and technology one common denominator remains: The inherent desire to form tribes.

Humans are social animals. We’re motivated by a desire to be a part of a larger group.To fit in. To belong. Looking to be part of a group is in our DNA. And it’s thanks to this instinct that people still find places to congregate… they just look a little different.

For most part of human history tribes (communities, society, culture…call it what you will) have been built on proximity.  They were connected by basics like age, geography or class status.

On the other hand, the tribes of today are largely interest, value or purpose based. They congregate in forums, cafes, on social media and in shops. A weird, messy amalgamation of tangible and virtual communities united by some kind of common denominator: hobbies, political beliefs, religion, occupation, education, or professional.

Thanks to the Internet, it’s easier now than ever for new tribes to form, communicate and thrive. The Internet is crawling with groups of people, subconsciously forming tribes around nearly every niche you can think of.

And there’s an infinite number yet to be formed, just waiting for leadership. Someone to follow. For marketers this offers the chance to create and lead a tribe. The brand kind.


Why are tribes important for marketers?


Why tribes are important for marketers

Tribal Marketing 101


The tribes of today’s world, the ones people choose for themselves, are more meaningful than ever. They are personal, affinity-based and full of passionate advocates.

Theseare the kinds of people you want on your brand’s team! Having a loyal band of followers is what boosts awareness and engagement, finds you new followers (aka prospective customers), and drives conversion rates.

1,000 True Fans, dedicated to brand loyalty and your business, is all that it takes to fund you for life. They’ll be the ones that read every post and buy the products your brand creates.

Now, the ‘target the tribe’ approachisn’t exactly new to marketing. But still… it doesn’t get its rightful amount of airtime in the marketing equation.

You’re probably thinking you know all about the tribal business. “It’s just targeted marketing”. Well, yes and no.

Traditional targeting factors like age, gender, location, and occupation can be useful to an extent… but Internet communities consist of so much more than that. To find a genuine group of brand followers, you have to dig deeper. Psychoanalyst style.

What makes your people tick? You’re going to have to think outside the box on this one.

It’s only when you really know who your people are that you can position yourself as a thought leader in the group. To create appealing content specifically for your target group, and, ultimately, get consumers talking about your brand.

Your customers, people, squad, target audience, tribe… are the lifeblood of your brand. They’re the folks that spread messages about their experiences to other like-minded people.

So, make the timeto figure out who they are (or could be) and what makes them tick.


Finding your tribe


Tribal marketing for brand growth

Find your tribe, grow your brand


Time to get back to basics and reconsider your audience marketing strategy.


Step 1: Identify who you are: First things first! Time to stop and think. WHO ARE YOU? This doesn’t have to be an existential crisis. Just sit down, throw back a coffee, put your thinking cap on, get to know your brand, identify your niche and define your brand position.

Once you’ve successfully looked within, you can start to make your way outwards. Know who you are as a brand? Kudos to you.

The next step is that you make sure others know who you are as well. No matter the platform, make sure your bioand/or profile reveals who your brand is, who you help, and what kinds of content your audience can expect.

This is how you set audience expectations. Your followers know they will receive content that’s in line with your/their personality.


Step 2: Identify who your tribe are: Now  you can get to the juicy stuff – identifying who your audience is, what their interests are, and where they live online.

Who do you want to reach? What is their mindset? Having an idea of who you want your followers to be is key to developing your brand voice.

Most tribes have markers (collective values and behaviours) beyond their obvious traits. For example, Yoga enthusiasts will likely have a respect for the environment, value fitness and eating healthily (think organic, vegan, superfoods…), engage in self-help activities and health retreats…you get the picture.

Once you understand your audience’s markers you can more comprehensively create content that speaks into their lives, emotions, behaviours, activities and beliefs. The life beyond “you like to do yoga” or “you like to buy patterned leggings”.

You also need to know the kinds of audiences on different platforms. Instagrammers are looking for high quality imagery and videos, whereas the Twitter community want timely, snack-able news links and information.

Create content that fulfils audience expectations on different social platforms. Then you can fine tune it to the audience you’re trying to capture.


Engage your tribe


Tribal marketing communication

Get your tribe to spread your brand message


The plethora of competition on the web means that brands need to be smarter about how they do sales. Again, this means looking at how your product embodies a whole lifestyle and set of values for a select audience.

Once know who you want to reach and what they’re thinking, you can focus on creating content and stories that they’ll want to share. This is the part where you capture and cultivate an aligned audience. The rules of engagement.

There’s no set rule of thumb for creating content that engages your audience (other than making sure it is of high quality). The main thing to remember is that social platforms are designed to be social. This means that you need to be social.

Stop being a sales rep and start being a friend. People buy from people they trust. It’s what makes a loyal customer. Safe to say, most people trust friends… and plenty more don’t trust sales reps.

Any hint of insincerity (think promotional content and copy) or values that don’t align with that of your tribe’s values and you’ll quickly be voted off the island. So, make sure your ads are subtle, use brand tone of voice, and offer value to audiences.

And make sure your social media accounts offer content that is interesting for your audiences. Think about what motivates them and offers them content that adds value. You can’t expect followers to stick around otherwise.

The other wonderful thing about the digital realm is that is allows two-way conversation.Utilise this! Strike up conversation with your people. In their language.

If followers feel certain that their comments will be responded to, they’ll more likely post. It’s not complex. Send a reply, maybe click through to their profile and like some of their content. People love to feel special.

So, give the people what they want! All relationships take time and effort and the more you put in, the more you get out. They’ll engage if you engage. And engaging a tribe is the aim of the marketing game.

Just to drive the point home one last time: Everyone is not your customer. So, define who you are as a brand, who you want your tribe to be, find out what makes them tick, create content that adds value, engage with your community, and speak their language!

Create a band of loyalists. Then watch as they spread your brand’s message across the B2C world. Brand Loyalties = Brand Royalties.