There’s probably least one person in the world who would give you one hundred thousand pounds as a gift if they had it. Or at least you can imagine that there might be. They would be your biggest fan.
And then there are people who have never heard of you and who wouldn’t dream of giving you any money, even if you offered them something valuable in exchange.
In between, there is a whole spectrum of different groups, one of which has been described in marketing as your ‘tribe’. Your tribe is the group of people who resemble you in some way: they like what you like, they share common purposes, they think along similar lines. They are closer to the ‘love’ end of the spectrum. Much has been written about tribes and how to find yours, and this article (and its sequels) hopes to approach the whole subject from a slightly unusual angle to help you to see how to find your own tribe and make use of them.
For writers or anyone out there in the wilderness of the internet marketplace, tribes are incredibly useful if you are trying to sell something or grow something, because they are your allies, your fans, and your customers. They will want to read everything you produce; they will want to help you with everything you do; they will buy from you and then buy again as long as you remain relevant to them somehow.
Let's play with some figures so you can see how this works.
We begin with the ideal fan above, the person who would give you £100,000 and ask for nothing in return. They might be a fantasy, but there are probably several people, let’s say ten, who would spend ten thousand pounds with you if you had something of that worth to offer them.
Then there may be a thousand people scattered across the planet, who would spend around a hundred quid - again, if you had something of that value that appealed to them or solved a problem that they had. Again, that adds up to £100,000.
Going on from there, it’s progressively more likely that ten thousand people would hand over ten pounds for something you were offering. That also equals £100,000.
And similarly there’s even more chance of a hundred thousand people parting with one pound were you to present them with something at that price. £100,000.
This is the landscape of marketing.
You could easily come up with something and offer it for a pound. The trick would then be placing it in front of 100,000 people who were likely to buy.
You could probably, without much effort, devise something worth £10.00. But you would then have to find 10,000 likely customers.
Creating something worth £100.00 might be trickier. But you’d only have to find 1,000 likely buyers.
Finding ten people seems easier - but you’d need something worth £10,000.
So on the one hand it’s easy to come up with products that cost less, or to reduce the price of items; on the other hand, it’s harder to get mass audiences to look at those products. At the other end of the spectrum, it’s harder to develop products worth £10,000, but there are less people to find.
Your ‘tribe’ are those ‘less people’. If you could find that small group of people who absolutely love what you produce, they would be willing to pay more for it. And, into the bargain, they would probably buy all the cheaper stuff too, just to get closer to whatever it is that was ‘you’.
So how do you find your tribe?
There are several ways of going about it, but one place to start is with these key questions:
1. Who are you - really?
List out some attributes about yourself, good and bad. What do you like? What do you hate? What do you make an effort to get closer to? What do you avoid at all costs? What are your passions? What are your hobbies? As you write these things down, the magic is that you are not only listing out your own characteristics but also those of a potential tribe.
2. If there were a tribe out there for you, what would they need to be like?
Take the list you made in 1 above. Are there other people like that? Where would they be? Where would they go? What would they surround themselves with? What would they be doing on a daily basis? What sort of a sense of humour would they have? Obviously, not everyone in your tribe is going to be a clone of you, but there are going to be striking similarities - so much so, that a common refrain between tribe members will be the exclamation ‘Oh! You too…?’
Your tribe are your friends - not the ones you’ve more or less accidentally connected up with because of workplace proximity or through school, but your actual friends, people who will naturally have a high affinity for you because you are who you are. And you will like them back.
3. What would you produce if you didn’t have to worry about money?
This is interesting. If all your bills, your food, every living expense you could think of, was covered in some way, what would you produce? This isn’t exactly the same question as ‘What would you do?’ You might get lazy and watch daytime television all day; you might go on holiday or read a lot, or do a whole range of things which involved input, taking things in, enjoying things. But, quite apart from that, what would you produce? Would you write a book? Invent cooking recipes? Take up acting? Start a shop? Paint? Draw? Dance? Teach?
What could you put your energy into every day without getting bored? And what would be the result of all that? Books completed? A recipe blog up and running? A play written? A functioning shop? Paintings and drawings? A performance?
This feeds back into questions 1 and 2. These activities will tell you more about who you really are, and who your friends would be.
Having established that there may be a group of people out there similar to you with whom you would thrive, how do you make contact with these people?
Stand by for Part Two.