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This is an important question. A tribe is a group of people connected to each other, to a leader and to an idea (Godin). I opened a conversation with direct response professionals in Philadelphia last week by summarizing three timeless imperatives for marketing....


1. Cash flow is a must
2. Customers Rule
3. Do more with less
We used to look to harness the world of opportunity (we think is) in the marketplace as a funnel, with our product and service as the point of view.
We still organize promotions using that concept - it's a comfortable place where we feel in control. While it's useful to still use the metaphor as the process, things have changed considerably in the middle of the funnel in recent times. Brand relationships and preference are now formed prevalently via exposure to interpersonal exchanges - people talking with people.
No, we are not in control by a long shot, but why should we dwell on that when there is still so much opportunity still? The opportunity is that to lead with ideas the market wants - and businesses built around connecting customers with each other.
I don't think this necessarily means starting a news business as much as putting your ear to the ground and figuring out what about your business can be or is an idea that connects with your customers. Considerations of scale need to be part of that conversation.
Change is in the air
We put too much faith into what we *think* customers want. Even when we know what they want, we have a hard time delivering it. I call it procrastination through research. In my experience, we will never know enough about something that has not been done before until we do it ourselves.
Who decides when it's time to do it? You'd need to do a small test on your own. In many companies it happens as long as it doesn't cost much, as long as doing the right thing for the company does not take away time from your day job of following the rules.
Do it anyway. Find the time. When the critics raise their objections, work to find a way to help them tell you specifics. In some cases you may successfully ask them to work with you to make it happen. It helps if you build a personal network inside the organization. Seek out the doers, they exist.
Passion is infectious
But passion is dangerous as well. Customers love passion, they feel it - and sometimes will look to take advantage of it, why not? Internally, it's not a matter of jealousy as much as facing your own insecurities - when you display passion the emotion that comes with it that may hold you back.
You may become vulnerable to setbacks, make it very personal. Work may be personal, but your goals are larger than self fulfillment. Focus on that. You see opportunity for the business in the new marketplace and want very much to help your company and team succeed.
And right here, as I'm thinking about leading change and helping your customers see your business in a new light - remembering that you need to have something they want in the first place - I wonder out loud: how many tribes can you possibly lead?
Internal/external dance
All of those who are leading the conversation on social media inside organizations experience it. The marketers who are looking to try new things that are a bit outside the status quo - or challenge it in some way - know about it.
Sometimes you need to be an advocate for your customer community, sometimes an ambassador on behalf of your company's business - always a facilitator. This is my experience - conversation is a dance.
I'm intrigued by this concept of tribes that Seth Godin put forth in his latest book and wonder about applications and implications for the marketer who faces the three imperatives today.
How many tribes should you lead? How many tribes do you lead?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Valeria Maltoni helps businesses understand how customers and communities have changed marketing, public relations, and communications - and how to build value in this new environment. As a communicator she specializes in marketing communications, customer dialogue, and brand management. Valeria has come to define modern business as a long and open conversation. Conversation Agent is recognized among the world's top online marketing blogs. Valeria is a Fast Company expert blogger and a contributor to The Blog Herald. She is a co-author of , a groundbreaking ebook collaboration by 103 of today's top marketing writers. Valeria is a frequent public speaker on brand marketing, customer service, and building successful business teams. She publishes in both English and Italian. Educated at the University of Bologna and Villanova University, Valeria combines New World sensibilities with Italian style. She's an active member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), the American Marketing Association (AMA), the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia (WACA), and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).