I recently went to my first Denver Broncos game. Yes, I’m a local now in Colorado. I needed an AFC team to root for, and if you live in these parts that team is Denver. As you can see in the picture above, the Broncos tribe is large. In fact, this particular day I joined 70,000 other people in the Mile High stadium to watch a great match up between the Broncos and Bengals.
On our way out of the stadium I ran into these “bull horn” Christians. As you can see, no one is even looking there way as they shout out cliche phrases like, “All who repent will be save from eternal punishment in hell!” If I’m totally honest here, I have to say these guys are doing more harm than good. I don’t deny the message is true, but the timing, place, and delivery are all wrong. These kind of bull-horn idiots who claim to be Christians were the exact reason I wrestled with God over becoming a follower Jesus. These images haunted me from days of playing in the bar scene where they frequented the corners to deliver these same loud messages. Again, not the right timing, place or message delivery.
My point in this picture and blog post is we have to really think through communication to tribes. If you need a great read on tribes and marketing check out what Seth Godin says in “Tribes.” Our team at work is all going through this book again (and some for the first time). It’s really not rocket science. Whether we like it or not, we all have some affiliation with a tribe. We all connect and relate to a community. From Bronco fans to TV shows to book scrapping, and everything in between, there is a community for almost everything.
The key to marketing to tribes is realizing the basics: who, what, when, and how. There must be a shared experience that ties it all together…in this case a football game. The who is not hard to identify. The what message to say, when to deliver it, and how to deliver it is critical. If that isn’t right, then you’ll see the tribe pass on by like the picture above. Had these guys changed their message to something like “Jesus loves the Broncos,” or “God is a Broncos fan,” then they may have at least had a second glance. Ultimately they were set to fail because the timing and place where way off. Broncos fans leaving this shared experience were not in the right time or place to receive any message other than “Go Broncos!” They were all heading home. The shared experience was over.
I’m not an evangelist hater. Please don’t get me wrong. I believe there is a time and place for that. I also believe we need to follow the example of Jesus in evangelism too. His message was always relevant, timed perfectly, and met people where they were…when they were ready to receive it. It was about relationship. There was a connection made. I wager to say, Jesus would have never showed up with these guys shouting through a bull-horn.
Connecting with tribes are important as a company, brand, and marketer. Don’t miss the essentials when planning these strategies out. Do the research. Answer the basics. And what ever you do, please don’t show up with a bull-horn and a sign expecting a connection.
Breathe In & Smile Out,