Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tribes by Seth Godin - Review

First off, this book can be read in under 4 hours. Not common for business books. Secondly, Seth Godin draws from his own experience of creating tribe for his blogs and websites and discussion groups. Finally, he repeats his message enough times that even if your mind wanders, you're destined to read the core message a few times.

Tribes characterizes your customers as tribal units who want to belong to a community. As Associations, I think that our members form even stronger tribal bonds than the groups who might make up the community of a standard group of customers. Unlike a normal company's customers who purchase a product to join the tribe, our members share a common world view and are willing to pay yearly dues and attend meetings or join chapters. I think that Tribes is more important to us in the Association world than it is to those in for-profit endeavors.

Godin makes the point that business has changed from a factory model to a more communal, tribal one. The sense I take from this book is that command and control is not the most powerful way for my team and organization to work to meet the needs of our customers anymore. It feels stale to them, it feels fake to them and they don't respond by buying our books, attending our conferences or supporting our campaigns. He cites mediums like Twitter and Facebook and forums as ways that the workers in an organization can make connections with customers that are much more powerful and meaningful to the organization that the connections a CEO can make.

The call to action here seems to be that the individual should be allowed make powerful connections with small groups on behalf of the organization. Their variation of the core message of the organization will resonate with their peers and tribes much better than anything a marketing department might craft for a broad audience. This kind of marketing is much cheaper than buying TV spots and is much more likely to reach the target market anyway.

Throughout this book I had flashbacks to the connector and mavens ideas in "Tipping Point". I also hear echos of the sentiment in the "Cluetrian Manifesto" and "Waiting for Your Cat to Bark". I don't know that I will read this book more than one or two times, the repetition of message get's tired by the end of the first reading, so I can't see reading it cover to cover very often. I made a fair number of marks and notes about websites and people he mentions, so those may draw me back into the book at times. His blog is definetly going onto my RSS list.

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