Nurture the niche and let them talk

Do you remember the tin can walkie-talkie? Where you connected two empty tins with a string and spoke into them, allowing the string to magically transmit the message?

Admittedly the tin can walkie-talkie, or tin can telephone as some people may remember it, is pretty LOW-TECH compared to the cell phones we have these days. But it tapped the attraction of a fundamental human behaviour that has stood the test of time.

People like to talk to other people – in person and online. They like to share messages. We have a fundamental need to connect with others. That’s the basis for this week’s marketing post.

This year Santa he tucked into my stocking a copy of Seth Godin’s book, This is Marketing. Actually I’m pretty sure he had some help from Mrs. Claus, but regardless, they both knew I’d get a kick out of this little orange gem of a book. I’ve pulled a quote that I’d like you to consider:

“Ideas travel horizontally now: from person to person, not from organization to customer. We begin with the smallest possible core and give them something to talk about and reason to do so.”

This line really sums up the massive shift we have witnessed over the last five years in marketing. At the core is this:

“You need a story worth talking about, and a minimal viable niche audience that you have nurtured, to share it more broadly.”

Could it all really be that simple?

Yes, I think it is. Simple in concept, however often riddled with error in execution. This process recognizes that marketing is both storytelling and customer service, since it often our interactions which are the basis of memorable stories. It also recognizes that humans like to interact and share stories and experiences that make them look smart, funny or connected to an inner circle. Those are the three main reasons people share. Framed from that perspective, it’s all about them, not about you. And it suggests that good marketing takes time and must be nurtured.

“Above all, it recognizes that every business needs to own a permission asset, be it subscriber or membership based, that allows it the privilege to contact customers, and continue to earn trust in every action it takes.”

But it all starts with having a story worth sharing. A story framed from the customers perspective, about a change you help them make. If the change you seek to make can’t be talked about, you may need to find a different change worth making. That will help them make it THEIR story, about your company, not just YOUR story. That’s a subtle, but very important difference.

“Nurture the niche and let them talk.”

It’s a short insight for this week as we get to work at the beginning of 2019, but it’s a pretty BIG concept, and one worth considering carefully as you plan your marketing efforts for the year!



Mary Charleson

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