Podcast
2
min read

Community: The Last Great Marketing Strategy?

Published:
March 22, 2023
Updated:
September 18, 2023
Listen on Apple Podcasts

The Guest

Mark Schaefer is a TED keynote speaker, marketing strategist, legacy podcast host, university educator, and author of 9 books including "KNOWN" "Marketing Rebellion" and "Cumulative Advantage." - His latest book, “Belonging To The Brand” has just been released, and he’s here today to talk about marketing strategy, community, and branding.

The Interview

As a longtime fan of Mark Schaefer, this interview was definitely a bucket list moment for me, and the man did not disappoint, providing an overview of his new book, reflections on his storied career in marketing, and hopeful hints at what the future of our industry has in store.

The discussion started with a brief intro to his latest book, “Belonging To The Brand (Why Community Is The Last Great Marketing Strategy),” in which Mark puts forth arguments and examples for the historical precedent of the effectiveness and importance of communities in marketing, and how new tech and the “youngins” are guiding the way forward.

“The book really gets down to this idea that community was the first great marketing strategy,” begins Mark. “When my grandparents used to shop at local stores, everyone knew one another. That was part of the community and the way it naturally functioned, and in many ways we’ve lost that. Tons of articles lately highlight the ways we’ve lost communities, and the business case is that marketing doesn’t work like it used to. No one sees the ads, no one hears them, and worst of all, they don’t believe them.”

Mark firmly believes that the customer is the marketer, and the most effective marketing happens when the customers do the selling, citing many examples from his book where marketing communities are handling all the heavy lifting. I then asked Mark what he thinks the reasons are behind brands and marketing teams misunderstanding how the power of communities can be harnessed.

“It’s complicated,” Mark says. “Community has really been overlooked because in the early years of the internet, every brand tried to generate the effects of a community, centering them around transactions and self-service. But this completely misses the aspect of experience. If a brand can create a compelling community, they’re going to own their space. As I said in a previous book, “The Marketing Rebellion,” ‘the most human company wins’ and I still believe that.”

We then pivoted to analytics and measuring the effectiveness of marketing, and Mark had some profound insights on what to measure, and what is impossible to measure.

“Marketing analytics are unique to every client and vertical,” states Mark. “My fundamental philosophy in marketing is that most marketing is occurring without us (marketing teams). McKinsey released a report in which they traced more than 200,000 customer journeys, and the data shows that 2/3rds of marketing is happening without the interaction of a brand. So my big question is, how do we earn our way into that 2/3rds of marketing that is happening without us? Measuring word-of-mouth is near impossible, but measuring social sharing is something you can do, and it’s important to do that because when someone shares your stuff, that is a brand advocacy metric and is a great indicator of future success. You can either keep up with culture, or measure it, but you probably can’t do both.”

“My one piece of advice to the audience is that marketing should fundamentally get down to the idea of humanness. The most human company wins. So if you position your brand as a belonging, welcoming, community, and you walk that walk, you’re going to succeed.” 

The Links

Mark’s main website
“Belonging To The Brand”

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