Direct Marketing vs. Tribe Building


A brand’s value is: how much extra people will pay, how often they choose you, if and what they’ll tell their friends about it, the expectations they have, the promises you’ve made, the memories, the stories and relationships of one brand over the alternatives.

A commodity is the opposite. Where the product or service is interchangeable and a user won’t pay a premium. She’ll only look at price.

Virtually all businesses are fighting in the commodity space. Obviously, a mistake.

The internet changed the way marketing can be done. It allowed for direct marketing where every click, view, like and comment can be measured. Users can be targeted and retargeted and followed around even off platform.

It’s very different from the unmeasurable tribe building kind. 

The mistake many companies make is measuring the effectiveness of tribe building marketing with direct marketing tools and vice versa.

If you’ve decided you’re gonna use direct, you need to be clear on the outcomes that are considered successful. You wanna spend $X per click, which will lead Y ppl to a landing page, which in turn will convert Z ppl at a cost of $V per client whose lifetime value (LTV) is 20 times V for example.

You can’t backtrack afterward and rationalize a failed campaign. It’s binary.

With tribe building marketing, you need to resist the temptation of measuring everything and realize you’re playing the long term game.

What’s the ROI of having a team of engineers to make sure Apple’s box takes 2–3 seconds to open? Or the ROI of Five Guys who overflow the cup with fries so there’s an extra scoop in the bag?

In ‘’inside Apple,” Adam Lashinsky’s says: “To fully grasp how seriously Apple executives sweat the small stuff, consider this: For months, a packaging designer was holed up in this room performing the most mundane of tasks — opening boxes.”

So use the right tools for the job. If you’re building a tribe, think long-term. If you’re using direct, think short-term.

RJ Youngling