There is a school of thought on the Internet that says if you want to build a community for yourself –go out and find the fringers and give them a place to connect to you and each other through your brand. Find the outcasts and unite them. I say NO! No. It’s simple. The popular kids never give tutorials on how to become popular. And they never go out and sit down at the loser nose pickers lunch table and make them their tribe. If you want to be a prom king brand or product on the internet you need to build your clique from the top down with two distinct types of users.
- The celebrities/influencers
These are people that everybody already knows and respepcts. These are celebrities’ in their industry. The household names. They have the ability by simply mentioning your product/brand/website once in a blog post or using it to influence a large number of people.
- The evangelists
These are the people that read you, follow you, watch your videos and respect you that will use your product/brand/service and individually convert others to use your product/brand/service through personal testimonials
In this model, you build your community through careful selection of whom you want to use your product or service and speak to them, communicate with them. At the end of the day you only need a few of these types of people. However, the beauty of the model is these few will work to recruit the rest, even the fringers. This is a top down approach to marketing and building a tribe. It is always easiest to make the brand cool from day 1, by making sure your users are cool. On the flip side, it is a lot harder to make the brand cool if your users are geeks. That stigma is hard to break. You build a prom king brand by attracting Prom Kings first.
Case study: Versace Marketing in a Gap World
Consider the Versace Model. In the 90s, Gianni Versace started giving his clothing away to celebrities to walk the red carpet in. By putting 1 dress on Elizabeth Hurley, Hugh Grant’s then supermodel girlfriend, (known as the safety pin dress), he got his brand seen and sought after by millions. It was a cheap and effective method. He simply put his product on the back of an influencer and next thing you know he was caviar in a cream cheese world. On the flip side, you take Gap, in order to market to the masses through more expensive channels with greater reach like print ads and television, they need to appeal in style and price and sell far more product. And at the end of the day they still never achieve the mystique of Versace. That coveted position at the cool kids table. What would you rather be? Versace or Gap? It’s simple – Versace marketing is a more effective and less expensive branding technique, it’s just a matter of learning how to do it properly.
Now I don’t mena to say that Versace was on a shoe string budget at the time they started clothing celebrities, but they knew they were a high end retailer and they knew that it was more cost effective to put a few threads (and this was Versace, so we literally mean “a few”) on the important people than having their advertisements flashed all over TV. It is simply a more effective brand builder to associate yourself with the influencers than to go directly to the masses. So, find ways to connect directly with celebrities within your industry or within the mainstream online and actually get them to use your product/service- you don’t need them to endorse it- just using it will make it cool. The rest will follow like sheep.