How a Tribe Can Help You Thrive

Written by on January 16, 2013 in Nonprofit, Social Business, Strategy, Wellness - No comments

Successful brands that stand out don’t have customers. They have fans. Members. Ambassadors. Tribes. Creating a loyal group of supporters who actively engage with your organization, promote your company or cause and feel like they are part of your mission is a powerful thing.

Possibly the best example of a company who has fully embraced its customers and turned them into living, breathing brand advocates is Harley Davidson. The company’s Harley Owners’ Group initiative has more than 1 million rabid members, who all consider themselves part of the Harley family.  Harley has become more than a product. When you buy a Harley, you are buying into a lifestyle. You are joining a movement. Not just buying a motorcycle. People purchase Harley clothes and caps, show up in droves for member events, get Harley tattoos and in some cases probably name their children after the company.

Harley has always understood the power of loyal, passionate customers. Executives spend significant time with customers, including weeklong rides with Harley owners. Employees of Harley fight for the right to represent the company at consumer events. No company stays closer to its customers.

The company also wants long-term relationships. Their famous Ride Free initiative was designed to move owners up to bigger, more expensive motorcycles. The company promised owners who bought an entry-level bike that they could trade them in a year later for a bigger Harley and get their full original purchase price credited toward the price of the new bike.

Like every company, Harley has had ups and downs. But when times get tough, Harley leans on its tribe.

In his book “Tribes”, marketing guru Seth Godin provides three key activities for using supporters to grow your business and/or to fuel your purpose. You must motivate, connect and leverage.

To see this in action, research the story of HopeMob. This online community was recently formed with the purpose of helping people who were falling through the cracks of traditional philanthropy. HopeMob is where “generous strangers unite.”  Through HopeMob, founder Shaun King has been able to build a loyal band of followers who are motivated for change. He has connected them in a thriving community where they feel like part of something bigger than themselves. And now, this community is consistently leveraged to accomplish greater good. The HopeMob tribe is frequently mobilized to help individuals in need, ranging from a single mom who needed to repair her car to get to work to a family that was displaced by a hurricane.

To set yourself apart, you need your own tribe. Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool available to you. In today’s connected world, social media has created unprecedented ways to nurture a passionate community of supporters. How can you make your supporters feel like they are part of something special? How can you motivate them to spread the love? How can you create connections among them so that they are in actual community? And finally, how can you mobilize your tribe to carry your purpose forward?

Cultivating an active community of supporters requires intentional and ongoing interactions. It requires following Godin’s checklist of making sure you have a plan for motivating, for connecting and for leveraging. It requires communication strategies that aren’t solely targeted at selling products or raising funds. Strategies that are focused on relationships and not just transactions.

Looking for more guidance on how your company or cause can stand out from the crowd? Check out new whitepaper below:

STANDING OUT: 5 Ways to Get Noticed by Being Different

Rising above the competitive fray is possible if you examine your product/service, culture, customer experience, tribe and position in the marketplace. DOWNLOAD>>

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.