Marketing and general biz guru Seth Godin wrote a recent, very poignant blog post entitled “First, connect.” While he specifically called out the “connection economy” made fluid and possible via the internet, there is a bigger and more important story here than just the usual suspects of social networking and digital connections. Connection is everything, and connection is everywhere – and it’s never been more important.
Let’s look at the products we buy. Only a very small percentage of them serve real human “needs,” while the vast majority satisfy our increasingly personal and customized “wants.” Marketing and product development divisions from companies all over the world agonize over target markets, segmentation, and connecting their products with buyers – and they spend a LOT of time and money in the process. They want to build tribes and evangelists that not only buy repeatedly, but that also emotionally connect and build strong communities around their common threads. And these threads can be tangible product features that meet a need/want; they can be values shared by the tribe; they can be social status bestowed on the tribe by virtue of their brand consumption. The ties that bind are almost endless and are many times unexpected, intangible, and downright weird.
So while it’s commonplace for companies to carefully craft strategies for launching and connecting their products and services to specific and targeted tribes in the external marketplace, the bigger question is whether or not this same discipline and rigor is applied to connecting to their internal marketplace(s). In other words, how vigorously and effectively are we connecting our biggest product (i.e., our company) to our most important buyers (i.e., our team members)? Are we building a tribe and community with strong emotional ties to our vision and purpose? Do our team members clearly understand their individual, unique roles in weaving our connected and common threads? Ah, the ties that bind are many, and they’ve never been more important to our future. Pay special attention to these connections, and as Seth says, the rest will take care of itself.