The idea behind Seth Godin's "Connection Economy" is that businesses are shifting away from industrial and into something more interwoven and intentional. It's no longer a priority to advertise to the masses or reach the largest audience possible. It's about advertising to your target audience. Not just your target audience, but specifically your community or tribe. Godin says, "When you have the privilege of delivering and anticipating personal and relevant messages to people who want to get them, that is the asset to take to the bank." That is the value of the Connection Economy. When what you are searching for is not customers for your product but a product for your customers, you are providing actual value to your community.
Godin states that in a previous time, we had three tribes. Family, Religion, Work. Now, as a society and the global economy have evolved, we've created small subsets of tribes. Vegans, Crossfit, we could even look at tech as a multitude of tribes - HR Tech, FinTech, Mar Tech, eCommerce, etc.
He says that anyone who is looking to join a tribe is looking for six things from their leadership or organizer:
As a company or a marketer, the way to do this is to look at the product you make. If it's boring (a commodity as he calls it), you're not going to grow anymore. But, he says, "If you want growth and you want to count, and you want people to miss you when you're gone, you have to lead your people."
The next obvious question would be how? The first step would be to understand what a leader is. Godin makes a differentiation between managers and leaders. Managers are in the business of producing more while spending less. It's not a matter of quality for anyone involved. On the other hand, leaders are rawer. "Leaders don't know how to do it, but they're willing to work with their tribe to get where they need to go."
True leaders, he indicates, are community or tribe-driven. Here are the ways they lead:
We sometimes need to be reminded how to connect. Not to mention, you aren't going to maximize connections by solely focusing on connecting to your consumers. (Truly, there is only so far that customer satisfaction surveys can take you.)
Make an effort to connect with your ecosystem partners. Connection should occur interdepartmentally within a business too. Make it intentional. Make it meaningful. We are no longer in the business of selling but in the business of providing value. There used to be an expression that everyone is in Sales. Now, we can say everyone is in connection. As a marketer, your role is for that value to be visible, tangible, and available to facilitate that connection.
Godin says that "When the world changes, we get to choose what we see. If we want it to stay the way it was, it's a little fuzzy." We do not determine the course; our community determines the course. It is our responsibility to listen to and evolve with them. We can't tell them what they want. We can't give them things that they don't see value in. We have to listen to them and move with the tide. If we choose to reject change, our reality will become distorted.
As a marketer, you must be flexible and agile with your strategies. Watch as behaviors change and change with them. It is about paying attention to what your community is saying and how they are reacting. If you feel disconnected from the community, begin reaching out to individuals regularly to get their feedback.
You will never fly if you are always afraid to fall. Inevitably, you will scrape a knee here and there, but that's all a part of living. Seth Godin preaches that risk-taking is the most significant part of marketing. Admittedly, it's horrifying. The payoff of risk-taking, however, can be huge.
Why take a risk? Risk-taking allows your business to stand out and shapes your brand in the process.
Simultaneously, risks can encourage brand loyalty. Risk-taking goes hand-in-hand with evolution in the marketing world. A risky marketing move can create change, and you might find yourself and your business starting a revolution.
Risk-taking comes in many different forms. Take Reveal, for example.
The connection economy is a topic that profoundly resonates with Reveal. Not only are we connection-driven, but we are connection-created. We were once Sharework, the Ecosystem Management Platform, like Crossbeam. But, our community took our product in a different direction. And, because of our connection with our community, we became Reveal, the Collaborative Growth platform. A risk we decided was worth taking because what we were doing and who were, in the beginning, Sharework is not who our community had driven us to become.
Learn from the most notable leaders in partnerships and alliances. For example learn how to leverage your ecosystem from Jay Mcbain, how to plan your partner program with Mike Brigman, and what to include in your KPIs with Elliott Smith.