The New Marketing: Leading A Tribe to Create a Movement?

Every once in a while, it’s good to take a step back…

The Ted Tribe Talk: “Tribes are what matter now” just went live.  In 17 minutes, Seth Godin bring to life his story: the Internet has ended mass marketing and revived a human social unit from the distant past: tribes. Founded on shared ideas and values, tribes give ordinary people the power to lead and make big change… Everyone and anyone should step up–find something worth changing and start a movement by asking the tribe to spread the idea…

Seth speaks to the evolution in marketing from factory, to mass market and “push” advertising,  to the growth of the internet and the idea of tribes as a way to lead and connect people and ideas. He believes that tribes are what people want now–tribes can create movements that can help change the world– not because of force, power or money– but because people want to connect especially to something worth changing. Seth makes the point that its not about the numbers, but creating a movement among the people that care–the true believers–and as little as a thousand believers is enough.

In his Ted talk, Seth outlines 4 key steps that move in a continuous circle:

  1. Tell a story
  2. Connecting a tribe
  3. Leading a movement
  4. Make a change

Seth believes that leaders today:

  1. Challenge status quo–“they are heretics”
  2. Build a culture through their curiosity and ability to connect like-minded people
  3. Gain charisma by leading (and not the other way around)

(You can find the book and more information here.)

My friend Sophie is just embarking on starting her own movement. She’s trying to incite awareness, funding and greater use of the many miles of open space trails right here in Princeton, NJ–the most populated state in the country–with a new book that outlines 16 great walks. She’s not doing it for the money (all the profits go to local land preservation organizations), but to bring the simple joy of using and appreciating our local open space land to as many in our area as possible. For years, I’ve enjoyed many a morning walk with Sophie and friends–a few moments of connected friendship, health and activity surrounded by nature and beauty. (Yes, there really are a few trails that you’d be hard pressed to think you’re in ‘jersey’…)

In 1998, Jenifer Estess, her family, and friends, started Project A.L.S. when Jenifer was diagnosed with the fatal brain disease (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) at the age of thirty-five. Upon discovering that there were no effective treatments, Project A.L.S. set out to put medicine into place.

The mission today is to bring the best science to ALS patients in the form of effective treatments and, ultimately, a cure. Project A.L.S. has raised over $37 million, directing 81% to research programs. The hallmark of Project A.L.S. research is collaboration. Researchers who were competitors now play on the same team, meet regularly, share data openly, and work rationally, constructively, and aggressively toward shared goals.

My childhood friend Valerie and her sisters never asked for permission, and have accomplished incredible success with no formal pharma marketing or product development experience…just intense focus and the belief that status quo wasn’t good enough…

Seth argues that leadership is the best marketing tactic for any organization–and a marketer’s role today is to find, connect and lead tribes in order to make change happen.

In thinking about pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing… who will take that leadership role?

I hope to contribute to changing the role of marketing in pharma and healthcare today from one historically based on “push” (and I don’t just mean DTC advertising but also the whole R&D Development and Salesforce selling approach) to:

  • one of greater customer and patient focus at every step of the way

  • authentic product and marketing differentiation, and

  • simplicity in design and execution (more emphasis on the “elegant solution” vs the shotgun approach).

  • This would mean that the consumer/patient is not only fully integrated into the development and business model, but actually has a seat at the table at every important decision (which unfortunately is still not the case across the industry). This would also mean leading change in how we engage and collaborate with customers and consumers…which includes, but goes beyond the use of social media…DTC in the 21st Century (DTC 21)

What are you not happy with? What do you want to change? What is worth starting a movement about?