"Branches & Roots": A Look at Strategy and Competition Through the Lens of Business and Sport
A Banyan Tree Strategies Communication
Membership Matters...Where Do You Belong?
In a perfectly efficient world, we at Banyan would be able to know the first thing that popped into your head when you read the title: where do you belong? Collecting the data from several thousand people all at once would be amazing. We feel fairly certain that you did have an answer, as we all belong to some sort of group. Families are groups, as are schools, sports teams, churches and with the Olympics ongoing it is hard to leave countries off this list. For most of 2016 we have started to notice another enterprise that is paying attention to our human need of belonging, and our strong sense of group. That group is the for-profit business.
As we head into the fall and the fast dash to finish 2016 on a high note, we thought we would share a few things we have noticed about our sense of belonging. Even though it is remaining as strong as ever, it seems that we are distributing it to more entities. We appear to be in a time of great expansion when it comes to options for membership. In our lifetime, we have gone from three TV channels and no remote to millions of options on YouTube. When it comes to your personal tastes in reading, our subscriptions have expanded from maybe a magazine or two, to hundreds of likes on Facebook that keep us connected to a brand or cause. It also looks like our belonging is expanding from the big three of family, religion, and country, to everything we purchase or consume.
As students of how groups become teams in both business, sport, and life, we thought a few quick vignettes on the expansion of the membership economy could be of use to you as you lead your collective teams.
The Power of Extending Membership to Someone Else
The Olympic Games in Rio have had a series of compelling story lines that accompany the stunning vistas of the Rio skyline, with none more heart wrenching than the delegation of refugees who are competing without a country. Think about that; they don’t have a country. They don’t belong to one of the big three groups. Yet here they are, competing under the Olympic flag. Is there a country in the world that wouldn't want an Olympian as a citizen?
Our guess is the prospects for these athletes are solid. They will find countries, and chances are they will make a contribution greater than some who were born into that nation. Being without something can make one cherish it when it is returned or found. This is exactly where we think business owners can make a difference in a person’s life. When looking at your potential employees, you are extending to them a chance to belong. They get to become a member of your team, and membership can lead to access and to success. As you are scanning the horizon seeking great talent to transform your company, keep an eye out for those scrappers who may be a tick light on talent, but will never undervalue access to your group.
Can Your Brand Connect Into a Customer's Sense of Belonging?
If a brand is a promise wrapped up in an experience, and membership equals access to scarce resources, then the question is can your brand deliver a sought after experience? An example is that anyone can go to Disneyland, but only the members get the back stage conversation with Mickey and Minnie. In fact Disneyland has its own executive training center that allows other companies to learn how they have created millions of members around the world who vacation almost exclusively at Disney properties. Talk about a small world…
Most companies would die to have this sense of connection with their customers. In the midst of segmenting their members, Disney still finds a way to make the person who bought the general admission ticket feel like their access to the Magic Kingdom is scarce. Brilliant! Our central question here is, how can we incentivize our customers to want to become members? If you are having success with this at your company, please share with us here.
Book Review - A Book That Puts it All Together
“The Membership Economy” by Robbie Kellman Baxter
Silicon Valley consultant Robbie Baxter does an excellent job of outlining how different size companies can adapt to the emerging membership economy. She shares how to bootstrap your own idea all the way up to how Weight Watchers adapted to this new market reality. There are take a ways for how business owners should work with their employees and their customers. This is not just a book for the head of marketing, it is applicable for any parent or grandparent as they look to stay current with how people’s sense of belonging is driving their actions.
Going from the Big Three of Family, Religion, and Country to hundreds of affiliations can cause stress across the generations, if you get really stuck, take solace, at least you don’t have it as bad as good ole Charlie Brown…
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