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crafting brand experiences
for the modern audience.
We are Fame Foundry.

See our work. Read the Fame Foundry magazine.

We love our clients.

Fame Foundry seeks out bold brands that wish to engage their public in sincere, evocative ways.

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Platforms for racing in the 21st century.

Fame Foundry puts the racing experience in front of millions of fans, steering motorsports to the modern age.

“Fame Foundry created something never seen before, allowing members to interact in new ways and providing them a central location to call their own. It also provides more value to our sponsors than we have ever had before.”

—Ryan Newman

Technology on the track.

Providing more than just web software, our management systems enhance and reinforce a variety of services by different racing organizations which work to evolve the speed, efficiency, and safety measures, aiding their process from lab to checkered flag.

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Setting the pace across 44 states.

With over 1100 locations, thousands of products, and millions of transactions, Shoe Show creates a substantial retail footprint in shoe sales.

The sole of superior choice.

With over 1100 locations, thousands of products, and millions of transactions, Shoe Show creates a substantial retail footprint in shoe sales.

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The contemporary online pharmacy.

Medichest sets a new standard, bringing the boutique experience to the drug store.

Integrated & Automated Marketing System

All the extensive opportunities for public engagement are made easily definable and effortlessly automated.

Scheduled promotions, sales, and campaigns, all precisely targeted for specific demographics within the whole of the Medichest audience.

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Home Design & Decor Magazine offers readers superior content on designer home trends on any device.

  • By selectively curating the very best from their individual markets, each localized catalog comes to exhibit the trending, pertinent visual flavors specific to each region.

  • Beside the swaths of inspirational home photography spreads, Home Design & Decor provides exhaustive articles and advice by proven professionals in home design.

  • The art of home ingenuity always dances between the timeless and the experimental. The very best in these intersecting principles offer consistent sources of modern innovation.

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  • Post a need on behalf of yourself, a family member or your community group, whether you need volunteers or funds to support your cause.

  • Search by location, expertise and date, and connect with people in your very own community who need your time and talents.

  • Start your own Neighborhood or Group Page and create a virtual hub where you can connect and converse about the things that matter most to you.

December 2016
By Kimberly Barnes

Going the Distance: Four Ways to Build a Better Customer Loyalty Program for Your Brand

Loyalty programs are no longer a novelty. That means that yesterday’s strategies won’t work moving forward, so look for ways to rise above the noise, setting yourself apart from the cloying drone of countless other cookie-cutter programs.
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Going the Distance: Four Ways to Build a Better Customer Loyalty Program for Your Brand

article-thedistance-lg It’s easy enough for a customer to join your loyalty program, especially when you’re offering an incentive such as discounts. All your customer has to do is give out some basic information, and voila! They’re in the fold, a brand new loyalty member with your company. From there, it’s happily ever after. You offer the perks; they stand solidly by you, bringing you their continued business. Simple. Or is it? In reality, just how many of those customers are act ively participating in your loyalty program? Do you know? Sure, loyalty program memberships are on the rise according to market research company eMarketer, having jumped 25 percent in the space of just two years. However, that figure may be a bit misleading. The truth is that, while loyalty program sign-ups may be more numerous, active participation in such programs is actually in decline. At the time of the study, the average US household had memberships in 29 loyalty programs; yet consumers were only active in 12 of those. That’s just 41 percent. And even that meager figure represents a drop of 2 percentage points per year over each of the preceding four years, according to a study by loyalty-marketing research company COLLOQUY.

When discounts just aren’t enough

So what’s a brand to do? How can you make your loyalty program worth your customer’s while—as well as your own? After all, gaining a new loyalty member doesn’t mean much if your customer isn’t actively participating in your program. Consider this: Does your customer loyalty program offer members anything different from what your competitors are offering? Chances are your program includes discounts. That’s a given. And what customer doesn’t appreciate a good discount? But when every other company out there is providing this staple benefit in comparable amounts, it becomes less and less likely that customers will remain loyal to any one particular brand. Frankly, it’s all too easy for customers to get lost in a sea of loyalty member discounts. They’re everywhere. In fact, just under half of internet users perceive that all rewards programs are alike, according to a 2015 eMarketer survey. The key to success, then, is to differentiate your business from the crowd. If you can offer your customers something unique and valuable beyond the usual discount, chances are they’ll be more likely to stick with your brand. Here’s some inspiration from companies who get it.

Virgin: Reward more purchases with more benefits.

That’s not to say you need to get rid of discounts entirely. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Customers still love a good discount. The goal is to be creative in terms of the loyalty perks you offer. Take the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, for example. As part of its loyalty program, the airline allows members to earn miles and tier points. Members are inducted at the Club Red tier, from which they can move up to Club Silver and then Club Gold. Here, it’s not just a discount. It’s status. And people respond to feeling important, elite. Still, even where the rewards themselves are concerned, Virgin is motivating loyalty customers with some pretty attractive offers. At the Club Red tier, members earn flight miles and receive discounts on rental cars, airport parking, hotels and holiday flights. But as members rise in tiers, they get even more. At the Club Silver tier, members earn 50 percent more points on flights, access to expedited check-in, and priority standby seating. And once they reach the top, Club Gold members receive double miles, priority boarding and access to exclusive clubhouses where they can get a drink or a massage before their flight. Now that’s some serious incentive to keep coming back for more. Discounts are still part of the equation – but they are designed with innovation and personal value in mind, elevating them to more than just savings.

Amazon Prime: Pay upfront and become a VIP.

What if your customers only had to pay a one-time upfront fee to get a year’s worth of substantial benefits? It may not sound like the smartest business idea at first glance. But take a closer look. Amazon Prime users pay a nominal $99 a year to gain free, two-day shipping on millions of products with no minimum purchase. And that’s just one benefit of going Prime. It’s true that Amazon loses $1-2 billion a year on Prime. This comes as no surprise given the incredible value the program offers. But get this: Amazon makes up for its losses in markedly higher transaction frequency. Specifically, Prime members spend an average of $1,500 a year on Amazon.com, compared with $625 spent by non-Prime users, a ccording to a 2015 report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

Patagonia: Cater to customer values.

Sometimes, the draw for consumers isn’t saving money or getting a great deal. The eco-friendly outdoor clothing company Patagonia figured this out back in 2011, when it partnered with eBay to launch its Common Threads Initiative: a program that allows customers to resell their used Patagonia clothing via the company’s website. Why is this program important to customers? And how does it benefit Patagonia? The company’s brand embraces environmental and social responsibility, so it was only fitting that they create a platform for essentially recycling old clothing rather than merely throwing it away. The Common Threads Initiative helps Patagonia build a memorable brand and fierce loyalty by offering its customers a cause that aligns with deep personal values. OK, so their customers get to make a little money, too. Everybody wins.

American Airlines: Gamify your loyalty program.

If you’re going to offer your customers a loyalty program, why not make it f un? After all, engagement is key to building a strong relationship with your customer. And what better way to achieve that goal than making a game of it. American Airlines had this very thing in mind when it created its AAdvantage Passport Challenge following its merger with USAirways. The goal: find a new way to engage customers as big changes were underway. Using a custom Facebook application, American Airlines created a virtual passport to increase brand awareness while offering members a chance to earn bonus points. Customers earned these rewards through a variety of game-like activities, from answering trivia questions to tracking travel through a personalized dashboard. In the end, participants earned more than 70 percent more stamps than expected – and the airline saw a ROI of more than 500 percent. The takeaway: people like games.

Stand out from the crowd.

Your approach to your customer loyalty program should align with your overall marketing approach. Effective branding is about standing out, not blending it. Being memorable is key. To this end, keep in mind that loyalty programs are no longer a novelty. That means that yesterday’s strategies won’t work moving forward, so look for ways to rise above the noise, setting yourself apart from the cloying drone of countless other cookie-cutter programs.

126 - Understanding Web culture: Introduction

Today there exists an enormous divide between those that know and participate in the culture of the Web and those that do not.

June 2016
By Jeremy Girard

Small Changes, Big Impact: 5 Things You Can (and Should!) Do Today to Boost Your Website’s Performance

There’s no time like the present to implement these quick fixes and reap the rewards for months to come.
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Small Changes, Big Impact: 5 Things You Can (and Should!) Do Today to Boost Your Website’s Performance

artice-smallchanges-lg Every spring it happens like clockwork: the temperatures get warmer, the days get longer and everything in nature becomes more vibrant and colorful. Along with these changes in the great outdoors comes the irresistible urge to clean house and embrace a fresh start. Why not keep that motivational momentum going and apply it to your business – and, more specifically, to your website – as well? After all, there’s no time like the present to sweep away the old and outdated and bring in fresh new ideas and technologies. But you don’t necessarily need to dive head-first into a full redesign and all of the time and expense that entails to reap measurable results. Instead, here are five small steps you can – and should! – take today to ensure that your site is up-to-date, relevant and doing all it can to bring you new customers and grow the community around your brand:

1. Reposition your contact form.

For most website owners – especially those in service-based businesses such as law, accounting, consulting, real estate, etc. – the key “win” for their site is when it motivates a visitor to request more information or schedule a meeting. Contact forms are a ubiquitous website staple intended to provide a convenient – and highly measurable – avenue to initiate communication between an interested prospect and a company. However, perhaps because they are so commonplace, all too often these forms are given little strategic thought, resulting in a cookie-cutter name/email address/phone number format that yields more bogus spam submissions than legitimate new business opportunities. However, there is one simple change you can make that has been shown to get better results: reposition your standard “Contact us” form as an “Ask our experts” feature. By doing so, you shift the focus of the form to providing your visitors with an opportunity to submit a question that is specific to their needs and concerns. Rather than feeling like they are opening themselves up to an endless barrage of solicitation calls and emails, your visitors will sense that they are initiating a dialogue with an expert who will help them solve their particular problem. Make sure to respond to all inquiries within 24 hours, provide helpful advice that is free of charge and tailored to your prospect’s situation, and leave the door open to continue the conversation in a future meeting or phone call. By doing so, you will establish an important foundation of trust and confidence with your potential new client that will make them more inclined to engage your professional services. expert I have personally seen the submission rates on these types of forms increase dramatically. On one site where this small change was implemented, form submissions jumped from one or two per week to one or two per day – all legitimate business opportunities that were sparked simply by repositioning the focus of the form.

2. Productize your offering.

Another challenge that professional services organizations face in creating a website that works as an effective customer conversion engine is that they do not sell a specific product but rather a suite of services that can be customized to each client’s specific needs. This makes it terribly hard to market to visitors who come to their site and simply want to know “What exactly does this company sell, and how much does it cost?”. Because there are so many variables to the company’s offerings, there is not a quick and easy answer to these questions. If this challenge sounds familiar to you, one approach you can try is to “productize” what you have to offer. Create a bundle of services with a fixed price, and market that package on your site in a simple, straightforward manner that makes your offering easy to understand and helps visitors feel like doing business with your company is as simple as buying a product off the shelf at a store. package This is exactly what my company did with some of the technology consulting services that we offer. Instead of only listing the array of services we provide, we also created a product that representing a very specific offering. This made it so much easier to answer the “What do you sell?” question, and it gave us something tangible to promote in our marketing campaigns. In reality, this approach in no way limited the range of services we are able to offer our clients; rather, it merely served as a vehicle to open doors to new opportunities and made it easier to start conversations with new customers for whom we could ultimately provide a custom-tailored solution. Examine the services that you offer, and work with your marketing team to create an appealing package that you can market – understanding all the while that this “product” is really just a means for you to connect with customers and begin the sales process with something tangible that they can easily understand.

3. Lose your home page carousel.

One simple change that I have seen many websites make in the past year or so is to remove animated image carousels from their home pages. These carousels have long been a popular fixture of website design, but the reality is that they can sometimes do more harm than good. Home page carousels typically feature giant, screen-spanning images which carry with them heavy download requirements both for the images and for the scripts that power the animation sequences, thereby creating a potential stumbling block in performance for users on mobile devices or with slower connections. Additionally, studies have shown that click-through rates on animated carousels are extremely low, and they drop significantly from the first slide to the subsequent ones. This is why many companies are replacing rotating carousels with a singular static message instead. This one change can greatly reduce a page’s download size (when my company did this on our home page, its file size decreased by 75 percent) while having little to no effect on actual user engagement or click-through. In fact, because the page now loads more quickly, many sites actually see an uptick in user engagement because fewer people are abandoning a site due to poor performance. image Do you have a carousel on your website? If so, do you know whether or not it is working well for you? Your marketing team may be able to do some A/B testing between a version of your site with this animation feature and one without it to see which performs better. Since carousels do work well for some sites (like news organizations or sites with lots of frequently updated content), having this data can help you determine whether or not it’s time to ditch the carousel.

4. Update your image(s).

Stock photography is something of a necessary evil of website design, as more often than not, companies don’t have the budget to execute a full-fledged custom professional photo shoot. However, not all stock images are created equal. Stock photos that are overused or that look so obviously staged that they scream of their “stockiness” can cheapen a site’s design and leave visitors with a negative overall impression of the site. Replacing those images can make a big difference in a site’s visual appeal. If your site’s imagery is stale, you can make some simple image swaps to freshen it up. If you are going to change out old stock images for new stock images, make sure to seek out photos that feel fresh and that are not terribly overused (most stock photo sites will tell you how many times an image has been downloaded). An even better option is to try to add some unique imagery to your site. This could be photographs that you hire a professional to take or – in keeping with one of this year’s hottest trends – custom illustrations that you commission from an artist. illustration If your budget is tight, incorporating even just one or two such one-of-a-kind images in key spots on your site can really boost its visual impact. For instance, if you lose that aforementioned carousel on the home page and replace it with one truly compelling static image and message, it can make a really powerful first impression on your visitors.

5. Publish less.

Most experts agree that publishing original, value-add content on your site on a regular basis is key to optimizing its success – both from a sales and marketing standpoint and as an advantage in the never-ending battle of SEO. While I agree with this approach in principal, for many companies, the drive to publish regularly has resulted in putting out mediocre content simply to meet an inflexible standard of frequency. This is often an entirely counterproductive effort, as content that lacks in quality, original thought or value for the reader reflects poorly on the organization and its perceived level of expertise. Publishing original content to your site on a regular basis is still a best practice, but that content must offer value for it to succeed. Let’s say a visitor comes to your site and is impressed to find that you publish new articles weekly or monthly; however, once they click through the headline to see what they can glean from your writing, if what they find is mediocre at best, what motivation do they have to return to your site again in the future, let alone entrust you with their hard-earned dollars? If, on the other hand, you publish new content less frequently, but everything you produce is of the highest quality, then that same visitor will know that the time they spend on your site will always be worth their while, and they will look forward to the next time you post something new. Re-examine your current content marketing strategy, and ask yourself whether you are focused on quality or frequency. If it’s the latter, commit instead to writing less but to improving the quality of what you offer on your site. While this change may not have an immediate impact, it will absolutely yield long-term results that your visitors will appreciate and respond positively to.

In closing

Eventually, your website will need a redesign, but in the meantime you can make small, strategic, surgical changes that will pay immediate dividends in your site’s success. This approach of implementing gradual but regular modifications will also benefit you when it does come time for that full redesign. By making intelligent improvements over time, you will ultimately be closer to your end goal, leaving less to accomplish with the redesign and thereby paving the way for a smoother and less costly project.
January 2018
Noted By Carey Arvin

Laws of UX

'Laws of UX' is a collection of the maxims and principles that designers can consider when building user interfaces. It was created by Jon Yablonski, Design Lead at Vectorform, creator of the Web Field Manual, and contributor to Storytelling.design.
Read more

March 2017
Noted By Joe Bauldoff

Design In Tech Report 2017

John Maeda presents his third annual Design in Tech Report, examining how design trends are revolutionizing the entrepreneurial and corporate ecosystems in tech.
Watch on Vimeo

June 2010
By The Architect

Shaping Business for the Tribe

The key to owning your market in today’s trust-based economy is to identify, locate, join and lead your tribe. However, in order to sustain growth and continue to evolve, you must allow the tribe to transform your business operations from the inside out.
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Shaping Business for the Tribe

Shaping Business for The Tribe Previously, in our articles Tribes in Today’s Marketing and Mastering Tribe Marketing, we explored how the marketplace is represented by countless networks of people who are connected by a common interest or goal – known as tribes – and how successful business growth is rooted in attaining leadership in those tribes and putting the principles of trustcasting into practice. Now we shift our focus to an outside-in examination of how the influence of tribes extends beyond promotion to shape how today’s businesses operate and evolve.

The old way

For any organization large or small, achieving a thorough understanding of its target market has always been fundamental to growth and long-term success. However, the task of gaining this knowledge has historically been a difficult process. It required a significant and ongoing investment of time and resources in fact-finding through surveys, focus groups, opinion polls and demographic studies – all in the name of formulating a more detailed profile of the customer, their attributes, their needs and their preferences. But in the same way that old advertising has been rendered ineffectual in today’s consumer-centric marketplace, these types of market studies have likewise become obsolete. Such disconnected, impersonal methods of information gathering are often too skewed, too broad or based on too thin an audience segment, ultimately falling short in delivering the depth of insight needed to engage in meaningful, trust-based relationships with the customer. More importantly, these outmoded forms of market research are not taken seriously by the majority of participants and thus fail to elicit the honest, thoughtful responses needed to understand what they really want, what truly drives their decision making and what actually motivates them to action. However in today's tribe-driven marketplace, the answers are right there in front of you.

Know thy customer, the tribe way

Simply by being an active participant in the tribe, you will gain an intimate understanding of your customers.If there is one thing that tribe marketing affords today's business, it is the ability to identify, engage and lead the community of customers that exists around it. You must understand that your tribe represents your customer base. While every one of your customers may not be active in the tribe, its membership is a reliable sample of all customers – especially those that can be the most passionate evangelists for your business. Therefore, attaining membership and demonstrating leadership in your tribe gives you invaluable access to your customers. Simply by being an active participant in the tribe, you will gain an intimate understanding of your customers, their lifestyle, their wants, their dislikes and their needs. It’s a deceptively simple concept: earn your place in the tribe by being one with its goals and serving its interests, and you will achieve unparalleled insight into the marketplace where your customers exist because you yourself are a part of it. However, it is then that the real work begins.

Listen, learn and integrate

When you’re a member of your tribe, you will be exposed to brutal honesty. The tribe is not there for you; they are there for the tribe. They will discuss their issues candidly and openly. They will likely complain and may at times be crass. This is not the type of polite, shallow input you receive from a survey or a customer comment card that is filled out hastily under the watchful eye of the clerk at the front counter. These are real issues being voiced by real people with real needs. You must be prepared to have your feelings hurt and develop a thick skin. However difficult it may be, it is important to absorb these opinions in their most raw form. If you’ve made the investment in earning your place in the tribe, you can take this process one step further and engage its members in your business operation. Let the tribe know what you are doing. Ask for feedback. Ask for honesty. Ask what’s wrong and how you can do better. Whatever you do, don’t attempt this unless you are a bona fide member, or you’ll find yourself being ignored, being fed ineffectual information or even being ousted from the tribe for conducting market research as an outsider. Ultimately, the benefit of being in the presence of such brutal honesty is that it often brings to light problems or weaknesses within your organization as well as untapped possibilities for growth. These may come in the form of an employee that they dislike, a product feature that they hate, an inconvenience you should correct or a void in the marketplace that is ripe for a solution. You may even find bigger issues to address: Maybe your product isn’t what’s needed. Maybe it needs to evolve. Maybe you need to rethink everything. Whether big or small, the problems and obstacles that you uncover by listening and engaging are invaluable to long-term success when you use what you’ve learned to direct the evolution of your organization in order to continue growing with your tribe.

Letting go and following the tribe

As the one charged with growing your organization, you’re probably used to doing things your way. However, if you are going to serve the needs of your tribe, you must take a step back and re-examine every aspect from the perspective of its members. You must not only preach the mantra, “The customer is king,” but live it through and through. You must not only preach the mantra, “The customer is king,” but live it through and through. It’s important to understand that your tribe represents the loudest, most opinionated and most critical subsection of your customer base. The honest, unfiltered information to which you have access as a member of this inner circle allows you to make changes to your product or service that will satisfy your most demanding customers. If you can placate these early adopters, loyalists and core users, then you will be ahead of the curve in not only meeting but exceeding the needs of your greater customer base. Should you give them what they want, they will wave the flag for you, giving you invaluable PR and unbiased word-of-mouth marketing the likes of which no amount of money can buy. This is not to say that you should make sweeping changes to your products, services, operations or processes based on the fleeting whim of each and every vocal customer. Quite the opposite is true, in fact. This is about getting to know the whole of your tribe – identifying the desires, problems and goals that are common to the greatest number – and applying your own ideas and innovation toward reshaping your product or service offering to provide solutions that address these needs.

Setting your tribe on fire

People instinctively long to be a part of something meaningful. Another aspect of reshaping your business around your tribe is finding a way to inspire them. The members of your tribe have the greatest potential to become your most ardent evangelists, but only if you can connect with them on a deeper level. People instinctively long to be a part of something meaningful. They crave outlets that allow them to engage in their passions. They are ready to carry the torch for those who they see doing good. Let’s say you own the corner coffee shop. Who is your tribe, and what is it about your offering that inspires them? Perhaps your tribe is made up of people who are passionate about organic or fair trade coffee. Or maybe the atmosphere of your store represents the culture and sophistication of urban lifestyle, and that’s what excites them. It could be that your tribe feels strongly about patronizing locally-owned businesses, and you offer Charlotte’s best coffee, so they find meaning in supporting your shop with their dollars. It’s possible that inspiring your tribe will require you to tell a story that’s greater than your direct product or service offering. Perhaps the members of your tribe are highly attuned to social and political issues that affect their community. Let’s say you decide to raise $50,000 this year to support local charities that assist homeless families, and you pledge that 25 cents from every cup of coffee you sell will be applied toward that goal. People will be proud to be seen carrying your cup because of who you are and what you do. The logo on that cup then becomes the secret handshake for the members of your tribe. There’s no advertising campaign, no marketing gimmick and no customer rewards card that can rival a tribe that is inspired. If you attach greater meaning to what you do, you give your tribe a reason to shout your message from the rooftops and proudly embrace your identity as part of their own. In this way, you’ll become more than a brand, you’ll become a revolution.

Tribes crave ideas

If you find that what you’re doing doesn’t light a tribe on fire, it’s time to invest in the white space of creating ideas. Today’s business is idea-based. Great ideas require a willingness to take a risk, to challenge the status quo and to do something revolutionary. This runs counter to traditional business thinking, which tends toward minimizing risk whenever possible. However, a tribe-driven marketplace has no tolerance for those who play it safe. Apple has sold two million iPads within the first 60 days of launch in the midst of an economic downturn because they hit on an idea for a new category of mobile device that set their tribe on fire. Great ideas require a willingness to take a risk, to challenge the status quo and to do something revolutionary. Amélie’s in Charlotte has achieved monumental growth because they took a concept usually found in much larger metropolitan locations – a 24-hour authentic French bakery and cafe – and brought it to a tribe of urban foodies that were primed for something new and different. Bucking conventional restaurant industry wisdom about the necessity of turning tables quickly, they instead welcome the members of their tribe to stay and linger, transforming their offering from a commodity to a culture and winning a following of loyal and vocal evangelists as a result. Tribes are ready and waiting for the next big thing that is going to solve a problem, meet a need or make their lives better. If you’re the one that delivers that idea, they’ll rally around you, spread your message like wildfire and fan the flames of your success.

There’s no shame in being small

The downfall of many small businesses when it comes to advertising and business growth is trying to act like a large business in order to increase their perceived legitimacy and trustworthiness in the eyes of the customer. However, in today’s tribe-driven marketplace, small businesses actually have a clear and distinct advantage. In fact, more and more, it is the large business that is trying to emulate and keep pace with the local mom-and-pop operation. Trust is earned when real people connect with real people. It is very hard for a large corporation to be real to anybody. In fact, when it happens, it’s because they have found a way to provide the level of personal service and engagement with the tribe that would typically be expected of a small business. In today’s tribe-driven marketplace, small businesses actually have a clear and distinct advantage. AT&T tried this with “Seth the Blogger Guy.” Recognizing that they couldn’t just run ads saying that they were working on the problem, they crafted a fake persona to represent AT&T to its tribe. They thought presenting customers with an unassuming-looking character on a first-name basis with the audience would be sufficient to cultivate trust-based relationships. This is false tribe leadership, and tribes are not so easily fooled. Conversely, Frank Eliason of telecommunications giant Comcast has established a customer service program that offers the kind of highly personalized touch that would ordinarily be more characteristic of the neighborhood florist. He has built a reputation for approaching problems with a genuine passion for resolving problems and following through on what is promised to achieve a positive outcome. As a result, over time people have given Frank and his team their trust, and they trust Comcast more as a result. Another great example is Mellow Mushroom – a very successful pizza restaurant chain with sales in the millions. However, their success is due in no small part to the fact that when you enter a Mellow Mushroom, nothing – from the menu to the decor to the staff – resembles a chain. They have identified their tribe, and they are catering to it. If Mellow Mushroom suddenly decided that they needed to look more sophisticated, more polished and more corporate, their tribe would quickly abandon them and follow the next place to come along and offer the casual, unrefined ambiance of a college dive bar. In this way, there is great possibility for small businesses. Your tribe inherently expects you to be real and to be personal, and as a result, they are predisposed to trust you. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to force your organization to be something it’s not. Remain focused on listening to your tribe and molding your operations around what you see and hear as an active member of your core customer base.

All for the tribe

The facts are simple: if you want to grow and thrive in today’s marketplace, your organization, your business operations and your products or services must be shaped by and around the tribe. If what you have to offer doesn’t fit your tribe, you have an obligation to listen to them, identify their needs and grow your business in that direction. If a competitor does it before you, you’ll be facing a mountain that’s immeasurably harder to climb.