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A Reason to Belong

For those of you who have read the new book Pendulum about the shifting outlook of society, you will remember that we are ten years into a “We” cycle. We still have another 30 years to go.

For those who haven’t read the book (and I believe it may be the single most important book you can read for business), the general concept is that there is a 80 year swing in society between two prevailing outlooks – Me and We – each taking about 40 years of that swing.

A “We” cycle has “community” and “collaboration” as two of the main themes. People want to belong and be a part of something.

One way to use this understanding is to help people feel like they belong to your store. You probably already have a FB page and have a bunch of “likes”. But how do you transfer that into a “community”? How do you turn those casual likers into loyal insiders?

Make them feel special.

Two ways you can do this…

  1. Insider information
  2. Shared unique experiences

Insider Information

People love little secrets. Men, especially, love secrets because men speak vertically – did what I say make you think higher of me or lower of me? Knowing little tidbits of information that most people don’t know gives men a chance to say something that will make you think higher of them (at least that’s how we perceive it, ladies, bear with us on this).

Ladies also like secrets. Unlike men, ladies speak more horizontally – did what I say draw me in closer or push me away? Ladies want to be in the inner circle. They feel special when they know the secret handshake. Little tidbits of information make them feel like they belong and also give them something to share with others and draw others into their inner circle.

Sharing personal stories, fun facts, and insider information with your fan base builds a level of loyalty among those who are in the know. Just keep it positive and interesting (i.e. did you know that the same man – Tom Murdough Jr – invented both Little Tikes and Step2? Yes, he went into business a second time just to compete with the first business he created!) Two examples of entities that have created a loyal band of followers… Lady Gaga & her Little Monsters and Jimmy Buffet & his Parrotheads. When your fans give themselves a name, you’ve done your job well.

Shared Unique Experiences

We have a special kindred spirit when we share a unique experience with other people. Those strangers become less strange. There is a nod of understanding between the people who have had those moments, a nod of “I-know-you-know-exactly-what-I’m-thinking”.

When you do something completely and uniquely different than any other retailer out there, you’ll get your customers giving those nods to other customers.  They will feel like they belong to something special. The best thing is that they will want to bring their friends into this inner circle.

The key is that the experience has to be unique and special and unadvertised. For example, when I was in the world of rock climbing, there was a gal in Colorado who was the best at resoling rock climbing shoes. Many climbers I knew sent their shoes to her. And she sent them back, resoled. The unique experience, simple as it may sound, was that in the box she included a Jolly Rancher candy. If you saw a guy with newly resoled shoes, all you had to do was ask, “What flavor?” If he had sent his shoes to Jules, he knew exactly what you meant and responded right away.

In a “We” cycle people want to belong to something special. Give them something special with your business and they’ll be naming themselves soon enough.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Once you get your fans to become so loyal they name themselves, you can stop spending money on regular advertising. They’ll do all the advertising for you.

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