Why Movement Marketing?
A fundamental shift is taking place in the Customer Engagement economy that deals with the way in which we communicate with customers and prospects and the way in which we build our brand. How we do that must be done in a certain way to make sure that we are building a brand that is built to last. There is an alignment between the values of customers and prospects and the values of the companies they do business with, and it’s much more than simply understanding values and shaping culture. Yes, all that is super important, but it’s part of a bigger picture.
Wanting to learn more about this subject, my research includes reading a very interesting book recently, Scott Goodson’s Uprising: How to Build a Brand – and Change the World – by Sparkling Cultural Movements, published by McGraw-Hill. I give credit where credit is due in sharing many ideas from that book. If the information resonates with you, then you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy. And if you really like what we’re talking about, you can tweet the author, as I did, and encourage him to do an interview for Customer Engagement Magazine and directly share some great ideas as one of the experts in this field.
Let’s start with the Mind Map on Movement Marketing and study what Movement Marketing is all about. Most people think of a movement in the context of overthrowing a government, and while that is one type of movement, it’s not today’s discussion.
What is a movement? A movement is a group of passionate people with a shared identity who are committed to implementing a change in the world. There are macro movements and micro movements. The movement is often based on a set of values and beliefs that fuel its growth. A couple of key points stand out here. It’s a group of passionate people, not a group of people who are not passionate. They have a shared identity and are committed to implementing something that they strongly believe. They are all individuals but have something in common that binds them together. A movement is often tied to a higher purpose of creating meaning in the world.
Why do people enroll in a movement? There are a number of reasons: an enchanting leader captivates them; a movement helps them to do something they otherwise could not do.; the social psychology of wanting to belong to a bigger group. It’s frankly cool in some cases, and human beings naturally like to organize in groups. Also, there is a perception of strength, which is very significant. In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, President Obama had a stronger movement than all of the people he competed with for the presidency. He was very good at building a movement to mobilize his message and get it out into the world, and he was successful with it. Movements are very important, and I’ll share some business movements as we continue.
Why is a movement relevant? There’s a growing hunger for meaning in the world, for a sense of belonging, of purpose and significance in a complex and challenging world. People want their lives to matter and their values to be aligned with something that is important to them as well as to the bigger picture. As mentioned, movements can occur at the macro level and at the micro level. For example, the Arab Spring is a macro level movement, while Livestrong, formally associated with Lance Armstrong in fighting cancer, is more of a micro movement.
There is immense power behind these movements and mobilizing people to push their ideas forward to obtain a result. There’s an input, an output, and an outcome that movements try to strike. Some movements have been successful, some haven’t. For example, Occupy Wall Street wasn’t very well organized, and although they started strong, they weren’t able to sustain their message.
A key aspect of relevancy is that buying behavior is shifting. Customers are moving towards supporting brands that are more aligned with their values and morals. For example, as supermarket shoppers become aware of how food is made, they start to vote with their currency, in terms of where they want to spend their money. One thing I personally look for is the GMO Project, genetically modified organisms. I look for products that do not use GMOs. In this sense, I’m part of that movement and make purchasing decisions based on a company that believes as I do about value.
Smart companies know that it’s about understanding the values of their market and where those values make sense. They want to be seen as authentically and transparently supporting those values. Smart companies understand that they must be a relevant part of the big picture in order to move forward in the economy, and that they must show alignment.
What are the attributes of a movement? First, there is a like-minded group of souls or community in a movement with a common set of values, beliefs, and worldview. These people have passion and purpose and are part of a crusade they feel is worth fighting for. What is the crusade in your business? What are you fighting for?
People in a movement are interested in creating significance in the world, and that’s really the motive. They want a sense of contribution, and that, in itself, is the payoff: the ability for them to contribute and to accomplish their objective, which is rooted in their value and belief structure. There is often a cultural nemesis, as in the biblical story of David and Goliath. Who are they fighting? Typically, movements have a cultural nemesis that they are against, which is the struggle. In many Hollywood storylines, someone fights against the bad guy.
Movements involve having a role model, and there can be multiple role models. They are foundational-based, meaning that usually there is some type of book or manifesto of ideas. Look at any strong major movement in history and you’ll find a book; for example, in all religions of the world there is a book. There is something to reference that bonds people together. There’s a common language, common symbols, and a mantra. A mantra is a word or sound that’s easy to communicate and repeat which expresses the essence of what the movement is all about. There are common symbols, logos, flags, banners, or wrist bands, as in the case of the Livestrong movement. This helps to identify someone who is or is not part of the movement.
From a macro standpoint, many businesses use these exact ideas in Movement Marketing. There’s a cultural set of rules for people who are part of a movement. There are do’s and don’ts, acceptable and non-acceptable behaviors. Often, there is a shared experience of a struggle that binds the community together. A good example is CrossFit.
I used to be an avid supporter of CrossFit, a health and fitness regimen. A CrossFit Box is an example of language. A box is essentially the gym referred to as a box. They use a term called WOD, “workout of the day,” a language in that community. All CrossFit facilities provide an exercise facility and have various logos. They have rules and a culture. They are for and against certain things. For example, they believe in Paleo; raw food, organic food. These are all parts of ideas in this community. People support it because they want to be part of the community. They want to exercise together so they can share the struggles and the results. Part of the reason I participated in CrossFit is because I thought about all of the intense pain I went through doing the exercises and wanted to do it with others.
Work delegation and leadership development are elements of a movement. It’s very important to be able to distribute responsibility and to give people something to do, to empower them to take action and to organize themselves. A physical place where people can get together several times a year to build bonds and relationships is powerful. Getting together physically for fun and camaraderie is a key ingredient, because you can’t be too serious. Some historical movements have been very serious, but there must be some points in the movement where people are able to let their guard down a little bit in order to connect with other people in the movement. If a physical gathering isn’t possible, meeting virtually is a great idea.
Two conditions that fuel a movement are restlessness and social strain. When there’s a problem in society, there must be an issue that motivates people to come together. If there’s no issue, it’s not going to happen. Movements provide comfort through community and shared experience. A movement needs a message that is clear and repeatable, a medium to communicate the message, and a well-defined audience that appreciates the message. The message can be distributed live on a webinar, on a broadcast channel, or in an article. But it must be targeted to an appreciative audience.
Regarding organizational systems, viable means must be available to enrol people in numbers, to assimilate and activate members into a movement, and to spread the message in a viral nature. That’s where social media and SMS (short message service, texting) technology on telephones come in handy. The more you can share the message and make it easy to activate and enroll people, the more successful you will be.
How do movements operate? Scott Goodson talks about “The Swarm Effect.” Consider a group of bees flying through the air, moving in unison as they swarm. They can identify resources, opportunities and threats as they move about and communicate inside the swarm. That’s also an important attribute of a movement, because as you build a movement in the business environment, you want to consider ideas that make it easy for your group to move and to grow.
Let’s further consider some business implications. One key aspect comes straight from Scott Goodson’s book:
“I think it all breaks down as follows: for a movement to happen, you need to tap into the passion, energy, or restlessness that people have concerning some aspects of culture. To do this, you need to articulate a big idea that somehow addresses the restlessness and is expressed in a fresh, compelling way which is where semiotics can come into play. If you succeed in doing that, you may end up with a group of true believers who are ready to act, and at that point you can foster that action by providing support tools and platforms.”
That sums up the key idea here. It’s really critical to realize this idea, because everything I’m going to talk about next flows from this central concept. He goes to say:
“So you basically end up with a formula: restlessness plus an alternative idea that’s expressed effectively, plus true believers, plus facilitation equals a cultural movement.”
That’s the key idea, so let’s dive in and unwrap this concept even more.
Movement Marketing was done very differently in the old world. Today, Movement Marketing takes the old world and flips it upside down, and I want to show you how that happens. Before, customers just seemed to make purchasing decisions. Now, a lot of buying has to do with making purchasing decisions based on values, beliefs, sharing, and connecting with like-minded people in the marketplace. Scott goes on to say, “As customers begin to care deeply about issues, businesses must care about them, too.”
If the public is moving forward to a world of greater collaboration and sharing, then businesses must begin to do the same. They must move in this direction; otherwise, they will fall out of touch and become irrelevant. And if people, newly empowered by technology, gravitate towards constructive and creative movements, then businesses need to figure out how they can be relevant and move in the same direction.
Instead of marketing and advertising being focused on the individual, we now see in Marketing 3.0 a shift toward taking a message and looking at how individuals are interconnected into multiple groups that share common values and beliefs. So instead of attempting to persuade people into a particular ad message, marketers must think about how do they tap into what the market already believes? I want to really emphasize that key point. Instead of being focused on selling, the way to connect with movements is to be dedicated to sharing the message instead of controlling the message. Marketers must learn to relinquish control and let people who are part of the movement be able to share in this new Customer Engagement economy.
Strategy: You must have a clear understanding of the business movement you want to create. What are the inputs? What are the outputs? What are the outcomes? What are you trying to accomplish? Then you can start to think about why you want to accomplish it and eventually how you will do it.
Declaration: It starts inside your organization. You must build support for what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. You must declare this inside of your organization.