Community is the Future of Marketing with Mark Schaefer

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In this week's episode, we are joined (for the second time) by Mark Schaefer - author, acclaimed marketing consultant, keynote speaker, podcaster, and university educator. He is the author of 10 books and he joins us today to discuss his latest book, “Belonging To The Brand; Why Community Is The Last Great Marketing Strategy”. In the episode we uncover the 3 mega-trends are that providing the “perfect storm” for community based marketing to win, how to build a sustainable community, and the common pitfalls that CMO’s face when building these communities.

Mentioned in the show:

📕Mark’s New Book

🌹LEGO’s Adult Flowers

📰NY Times The Loneliest Generation

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Mark: A lot of our traditional marketing doesn't work, we have got to find something new. And I don't I want to make clear. This is a business book. This is an unassailable business case for viewing community as a brand marketing strategy, which is kind of a radical idea, because almost nobody is doing it.

Eric: I'm Eric Fulwiler. And this is scratch, bringing you marketing lessons from the leading brands and brands rewriting the rulebook from scratch for the world of today.

Everyone, my guest today, the first two time guest on Scratch, Mr. Mark Schaefer, if you're in the marketing world, chances are you've already heard of Mark and if you've listened scratch, you heard his episode last year. Mark is one of my favourite thought leaders out there, I mean, just his brain and the way that he thinks about things he's written now 10 books on marketing puts out so much content is doing some really interesting stuff with his community as well. His newest book is called belonging to the brand, why community is the last great marketing strategy. If you've listened to the show, if you've seen any of the content that I put out, you know, how passionate I am about community and how important or how much potential there is for brands to grow. By investing in and building community properly, we cover a tonne of ground. In this conversation we get to Mark's perspective on why now is the biggest and best opportunity to invest in community some of these, quote mega trends that he sees providing the perfect storm for community based marketing to win. And then we get into of course, the practical as you know, I love what are the things that we actually need to do differently? How do we start building community? How do we justify it, internally justify the investment and start measuring success? I know you're gonna love this conversation, please do check out Mark's new book as well. Link is in the show notes. I think that's everything in terms of the intro. So please enjoy my conversation with Mark shaker. Mr. Mark Schaefer, welcome back. Our first repeat guest on Scratch, how're you doing today?

Mark: I am great. And, you know, I've been doing quite a few interviews lately to promote this new amazing book I have out but this is the one I had circled on my calendar, because you are one of my favourite intellects out there. So this is a joy to be with you today.

Eric: Wow, I really, really appreciate that. And I was very much looking forward to this as well, because we've had a couple interactions, obviously you were on the podcast. And then we hung out hung out a little bit when you were over in the UK. And I've always really enjoyed the conversations and have found myself thinking about them for weeks afterwards. So I'm excited to unpack with you.

Mark: And I always push push the edge a new way when we get together. So hopefully we'll do that again today.

Eric: That's the idea. Let's get into it. So before we talk about your new book, the icebreaker that we ask every guest, what is one challenger brand that you're very passionate about right now and why

Mark: Challenger brand that I'm very passionate about right now. I think, gosh, there's so many that I'm I'm interested in you know, let me let me go way off base here. Let me go way off base. And it does tie to my new book. But there's there's a lot of meaning behind this. So I wrote this new book is my 10th book. It did something in this book. I've never done before. I devoted a chapter entire chapter to one person. And and this is an interesting challenger brand, just because of the visionary new business model that they're using. This is an entrepreneur, Danna mouse staff. She was an entrepreneur running a business got pregnant, was torn to how do I run the business? How do I be a mom, she said I want to do both. She didn't, couldn't really find a lot of support around that. So she gathered gathered a few friends who had the same sort of interest. They created this little Facebook group Long story short, this Facebook group now 70,000 people in it. And she's making a million dollars a year in revenue. No sales department, no marketing department, no marketing budget. So it's this idea of community based marketing. That's not just like marketing within a business. The community has become the business. This is still sort of a radical idea. That couldn't have been possible. Maybe even you know, five or six years ago and To me that like stretches our thinking, you know, you and I were in Bournemouth together a few months ago. That's another example here we've got Mark masters, has a traditional b2b marketing agency kinda was bumping along, created this community. Now the community is bigger than his business. He's all in, in this community. So I mean, that's, to me, it's not just a challenger brand. It's like a challenger business model. That I think is extraordinary to think about. And still a virtually untapped opportunity.

Eric: Challenge your business model, for sure. And actually, the way that we think about our community plays a big role in what makes a lot of these challenger brands successful. And they're doing it intentionally, but they're also doing it authentically. And you know, this is your also because my voice is a little bit hoarse this week from being said, this is your, your show to talk about what you've learned, and some of the lessons for our audience from the book and your point of view on community building. But for me, I think it's a huge competitive advantage, if you're able to actually create the community around the brand. And so, you know, for us in our business, kind of sitting in the industry, between the challenge of brands on one side, and the incumbents that want to think and act like challenges on the other, the idea of community, the idea of adding value to your audience in a way that they can connect with each other is so huge. And I would argue, you know, I'm a big believer in like, at the end of the day, marketing is about changing perception and behaviour to drive growth of a business. And the thing that's been constant with that, or last hundreds of years, 1000s of years, is the human being. And so the same factors that made these brands successful in the past, that made community a thing in the past, it's not a new thing. It's just to your point, in that example, the opportunity for people to do it faster, better, and in more differentiated ways, is there but I really liked that prompt. And I would kind of bold that for people listening, which is it's not only about the brand, it's about the way you think of the model around the brand, which of course, community is a huge piece of that.

Mark: It could be the ultimate to get to your point, it could be the ultimate piece of part of differentiation is fear challenger brand, because most companies aren't that I mean, 70% of all the brand communities out there are focused on Customer Self Service, which is fine, but they're missing the brand part. They're they're missing the collaboration, co creation, customer advocacy, you know, getting information from, you know, in the post cookie world, about what's going on with our consumers. And the other interesting thing about what you talked about, you know, it's a provocative idea. You're helping me connect the dots here in a different way. You talked about marketing and creating demand community, it's almost like this reverse cycle where the community takes can take a brand to new places. Let me give you a quick example that I just saw in the news a couple of weeks ago, Lego has come out with a new line, Eric, that is there, it's to challenge jigsaw puzzles. So this is a family activity. Maybe at the holidays, you get out the jigsaw puzzle. And you do this together while Lego saying why can't we create a family activity like that this is a little more adult. So they're creating these Lego structures that are like succulent plants. They're like, you know, vases of flowers. And this came out of their community. So in their community, they have this innovation structure, that that you can create these new ideas and actually get part of the IP and part of the revenue. So isn't this interesting? That you know, marketing can lead consumers but consumers can also lead marketing. I think that's the beauty and power of community. You know, my I have a I have a community, a little community on Discord. It's devoted to thinking through the future of marketing. There are people in this community curious marketers from all around the world. They're taking me new places. They're seeing things and reading things I would never have access to. And I'm finding so many of my so much of my writing. So much of my speaking is now based On something coming out of this community, I mean, I was probably at least a week ahead of most other people and like on like chat GPT, because we were the buzz started happening in the community are creating AI generated images and art, we were experimenting it in the community, before it really hit the news. So and think about how you can scale that for a brand. If you if you have these passionate people who love you and want to be involved, I mean, it's just, it's just, it's the most overlooked opportunity in the history of marketing opportunities. Because community isn't new, it's staring us right in the face, we just haven't looked at it through the lens of brand marketing.

Eric: Yeah. And to build on that. One of the ways that I think about and try to explain marketing to particularly non marketing folk, you know, we do a lot of work in financial services and enterprise technology in these businesses that are not marketing lead. And oftentimes, if they're early stage businesses, they maybe don't have a lot of marketing DNA. And a lot of them think of marketing as the thing you do after you build the product. They think of marketing as advertising, the TV ads, the billboard, the billboards, the stunts, the gorilla,

Mark: is an afterthought. And, and it's it's DIY,

Eric: And when and what I say to that is you're thinking about it wrong, marketing is the bridge between the value of the product and the needs of the consumer. And so, yeah, go ahead and exactly what you're saying of your community, giving you ideas, that Lego community giving them ideas, that bridge is a two way street. It's that word and that metaphor explicitly, because actually, the product comes to market through marketing, but also the market comes to the product or marketing. So the example that I give to that is Monzo, very successful challenger bank over here in the UK, from the very beginning, they built, I think it's called, or some some, like Reddit style website, where their community and they hosted events and purposefully intentionally invested in cultivating this community, people could post ideas of what product features, they wanted to see what they wanted monzer to do differently. And that actually led to a lot of the things that they developed that drove a lot of their growth. So I think community is a huge opportunity to kind of build and really strengthen the pillars of the other side of that bridge. That is the needs of the market and the voice of the customer coming into your business,

Mark: especially for startups and challenger brands, especially because what we're seeing is that 85% of tech startups are leading with community as their marketing strategy. Because if you think about it, you need the beta testers. You know, you need quick feedback, quick participation. Can you help me with this? Can you help me with that? So I mean, this is very encouraging to me. Because it's like a lot of the, the young people to the young entrepreneurs in the tech startup scene, you know, they they live in community right there. This is sort of, you know, part of their, their DNA part of their lifestyle, part of being a digital native. And so to me, it's like, wow, what a bright future we have, when this is already starting to be embedded in a lot of these startups.

Eric: So I want to go off script from the very beginning. And I'm going to ask you a question that's not in the brief. But I think it's an important one. Why did you choose to write this book? So you've written nine books before? And of course, there's some red red thread through your perspective and your philosophy and your principles of marketing. But I'm curious, why this why now?

Eric: Well, there's, there's a practical side. And there's sort of an emotional side. And the practical side is, you know, a book you're familiar with marketing rebellion, I wrote in 2019 marketing rebellion was like a wake up call, it's like a smack against the head, say, hey, marketers, you know, you're in this trench, and you're iterative. You know, and let's do a little bit better on our Facebook ads, let's do a little bit better on our SEO, and you got to look up and see what's really happening in the world. And we're because our customers have the accumulated knowledge of the human race in the palm of their hands, they have a higher expectation of you as a company and as a marketer now, so it was like this wake up call. There was a chapter in the book about belonging and community predicting, this would be part of the portfolio of the future. One year later, pandemic hits, and people are telling me all that stuff you talked about that you know If you get rid of all the stupid interruptive, advertising, spam, lead nurturing all this stuff, right? We got to connect in a different sort of way, how did the pandemic start, every big company in the world says, We are with you in these unprecedented times. They couldn't get off the script. And the companies that did the best, and the companies we remember are the ones that finally rolled up the sleeves and said, We're going to help. We have people who are scared, desperate, losing their businesses, we're going to roll up our sleeves, and get down in these communities, and really do something. That's number one. Here's the second thing. Around this time, I saw a headline in the New York Times. That said, the loneliest generation. And I, you know, I'm sure it's this way, in the in the, in the UK, Eric, it's, it's in the news here every day, this issue about mental health and the chronic problems we're having. And I mean, that our children are teenagers. I mean, there's, they're suffering, and they're lonely, and they're isolated, and they need to belong, not want to belong, we have a longing to belong as human beings. And when you when you start looking at the psychology, and sociology of community, it's overwhelming. And so convicting about what it can do to help individuals and really heal this issue in a way. Those are kind of the two things that were going on for me. Number one, a lot of our traditional marketing doesn't work, we have got to find something new. And I don't I want to make clear, this is a business book. This is an unassailable business case, for viewing community as a brand marketing strategy, which is kind of a radical idea, because almost nobody is doing it. Number one, this is a business book, however, like you and I were talking about how this can be a point of differentiation, this can be a point, it can be a point of customer advocacy, co creation, collaboration, innovation. It can also it's marketing that works. It can also be marketing that heals. That's kind of an exciting idea for me. And, you know, I don't have a plan to write books, I write books, when I have an idea that needs to get into the world. And I'm desperate to get it out. Because writing a book is, is damn hard work. And it takes a lot of sacrifice. And so I just was sure I was just this is where we need to go. And it's the biggest overlooked opportunity in the history of marketing opportunities, because it's right there. And we haven't, you know, most companies haven't activated it. So that's, that's really what drove me to write the book.

Eric: I think it's really powerful. That idea of marketing, doing well, for growth of the business, all that stuff. That's like the main territory, let's call it of what a lot of marketers do day in and day out. But actually, you're the second person in a couple of weeks, that's made me think a little bit more about marketing, doing good, as well. And I think that's beyond, you know, we had a great cmo from over here in the UK and MSAP. Sophie Collins, we recorded her episode last week, it'll come out after this one, because we're going to put this out this month, but she was talking about, yeah, there's kind of the role of marketing in brand purpose, and the whole conversation about purpose, and profit and things like that. But actually, as a marketer, there are opportunities to get involved and help with the things that you really care about, you can actually have a positive impact in the world just because of the skills that you've developed and the experience that you've accumulated. And so it's slightly different. But I think it's related, this idea of how can community actually help do good, not just do well, for business? And I think that that's really powerful. And I can see how that really, you know, could help to catalyse you thinking that there was an opportunity to put this story out there because people are talking about community, but I don't think they're talking about it in the same way and certainly not in this angle, and not to the extent that you are

Mark: Nine times out of 10. When people talk about community, they're talking about an audience. That's different. I mean, an audience is cool. An audience is valuable. There is an emotional bond there between you and your audience, or your you know, list of customers. But the thing that's different about community is there's a communion. I mean, there's people interacting with each other, they know each other. And one of the most powerful ideas, I think in the book, I mean, I went deep down deep, deep rabbit holes of academic research on this stuff. And one of like, the, like, there was this like, like epiphany. There's this research that shows the bonds that your customers make with each other, in a community transfers to the brand, that goodwill, that friendship, transfers and brand love to brand love. It creates an emotional switching cost for the brand. Because if people are connected at a community, if I leave this community, well, if I leave this brand, well, I don't want to leave this brand. This is where my friends are. Here. Here's a powerful example of this. I was interviewing Alice Ferris, about her work, creating community for nonprofits. And offhand, she just happened to say, my number one community for professional networking is MMO. Fleur, I didn't know what that was. Mm, the floor is a retail brand that sells clothing for professional women. She said, this is like my LinkedIn for professional women. So what she said, I'm almost embarrassed to say it because they, they sell clothes. But when I need feedback, you know, something's going on with business. And I need to test an idea. I go to this community. Now. That's this idea where the the intersection of the purpose of the brand, which by the way, is different than you know, points of differentiation, the purpose of the brand, the thing that drives the brand, the thing that drives MMO flair is we want our customers to be successful in business. Customers Are Saying that, yeah, we want to be successful in business. Let's talk about this community. Now they also talk about clothes, they show pictures of their outfits and stuff. But this is her. This is where her friends are. This is her support group. And that is going to create this emotional switching cost for her, probably forever. So I mean, when you really get into the psychology and sociology, that's happening in communities, it's like, wow, we need to be looking at this in our companies.

Eric: One of the ways that I've talked about community and posted about it before is content is the magnet and community is the moat. So anybody, any anybody can steal attention, away with content, but it takes a lot to make a human being forget marketing for a second. And obviously, that's a red thread in this conversation. It's about the human principles and behaviours of which marketing can partake, not marketing exclusively. But it takes a lot to get people to become part of a community in a meaningful way for sure. So the barrier to entry and participation is high, but the switching cost to use that, you know, marketing business term is certainly high as well. So Mark, going back a little bit to, to kind of the meat of the book. Be curious, you know, in the introduction, you talked about these three mega trends that you're seeing that provide the perfect storm for community based marketing to win right now. And we've talked a bit already about the decline and effectiveness of traditional marketing and advertising. iOS 14 ad blockers, I think just a general. You know, I've always thought this people don't care. People don't care. People don't care about advertising. And they're much better at hard tuning it out and avoiding it if they want to. And then the the mental health concerns, which I think is incredibly powerful strand to this thread that that people aren't really talking about people are longing to belonging as you say. But the third one is new technologies that are enabling community. We haven't touched too much on that. So maybe you could unpack that for us for a little bit.

Mark: Yeah, well, so there's a positive and a negative that I think this is one of the most important parts of the book. You know, the positive is, so there's so much investment right now going into web three, NFT's, metaverse. And, you know, look, it's who really can define what web three is. You get through all the jargon, what it really is about as these are new ways to connect and belong, and especially young people today, millennials Gen Z, they're pouring in to the spaces, pouring into discord pouring into Metaverse pouring into you know, spaces like Twitch. So new opportunities. That's the good part. Here's the bad part. When they move into these communities, they're Cree. Seeing these blockades they're invisible, they don't want to be found. I think a significant challenge for businesses over the next few years is coming fast is bullet, you know, millennials, Gen Z. They're not on Facebook, they're not on Twitter as much as other generations. They're not on LinkedIn. And these social listening platforms, they're so important to us to, you know, look at the pulse of what's going on in the world. They are becoming obsolete, Gen Z, they're not babies. In America, we just had the First Gen Z, elected to Congress. They're buying stuff. They're gonna be leading our businesses, they're starting our new businesses. So I mean, this isn't like some future thing. And they're not in the places that are connected to social listening platforms. You know, in my community, on Discord, we're having these incredible conversations and debates and all these new ideas. Nobody hears those, nobody can see him unless they're there. So this part of the book is like very provocative and things. Okay, here's one of those Wake Up Calls, what are you going to do, how you're going to show up in these new spaces. So amazing opportunity, really concerning issues ahead, in terms of connecting to customers in meaningful ways, in these new spaces.

Eric: One of the things that I've thought about a lot in the past is I think, being on the marketing, being in the marketing world, whether that's agency, brand side, whatever, you're looking out, and you talk and focus on the consumer market, different demographics, different generations up and coming Gen Z, and then the consumer perspective, they're buying stuff to your point. I think the other side of this is what I call the changing of the guard, on the brand side, and on the agency side, because actually, so much of how marketing gets done is dictated by people that sit with the big budgets at the Unilever's and the Coca Cola is and the, you know, the big brands and the big agencies out there. And for the most part, they are not the profile that we've just been talking about. But like all things, change happens gradually and then all at once. And so, Pete, you know, the people that are coming up the ranks, who are going to be the next CMO of Unilever and the next CEO of WPP, are going to come from a different background, different contexts, different cultural, understanding different technological abilities. And I think that's going to drive a big change, it's going to be a change that catches up to where I think consumer demand is. But that's the other thing to keep an eye on and make sure that you're prepared for, if you're planning on having a career in marketing over the next five to 10 years.

Mark: I think that's a fantastic point. And as you were thinking, as you were talking about that gradually at all at once, you know, the My books are usually two years ahead of the curve. And I think people will read this, like warning I'm putting in the book. And you're right, like two years from now everybody's gonna wake up. They're gonna say, oh, yeah, that's what he was talking about in the book. So, I mean, it's, there's no easy answers. I mean, there really isn't. I was talking to a young person yesterday, who had a startup idea, I was like, coaching her on our startup idea. And the whole idea of her business, was figuring out ways to connect in these places, like discord and identifying who are the thought leaders who are the influencers in these groups? I mean, that's, you know, and I, you know, there's a lot of hands on work that has to be done there. But maybe that's what we're gonna have to do.

Eric: Yeah, I agree. I mean, like anything simple in theory, once you boil it down to what really matters hard in execution. So So Mark, I want to I want to start talking about, you know, I think a lot of the people listening, knowing our audience, knowing what we stand for, they've probably heard us talking about community before, not to the extent and not in the same way that you are. Let's assume this conversation past conversations that we've had other content that we put out, people listening, buy into the value and opportunity of community, what do they actually need to be doing differently? Where do they get started getting started? That's a two part question. One would be practically what do you do if you're a marketer and you say, Great, I want to build community around my brand. And two, if you're a marketer, that isn't the CMO or has a CEO or CFO that they have to convince to do this because similar to you know, our model of we're trying to build a media company around rival, putting out content and events that add value to the audience of Challenger marketers around the world because long term, we believe that will drive growth of our brand and business, but we can't measure it in a short term window. And actually, if we try to, we're doing it the wrong way. community, I think and tell me if you disagree is a similar type of thing. In order to do it right, you have to focus on the value exchange going towards the community, not towards your business in the short term. But in the long term. Once you get over that hump, once you have that moat, then it starts flowing back to you. So where do you get started? And how do you get buy in and get people on board? If it does need to be more of a long term investment?

Mark: Well, I mean, there's so many key points in wisdom. And your question is, I'm going to try to unpack it as succinctly as I can. Because I mean, you covered a lot there. All right. I think whether you're a CMO or someone with the idea that community could fit, I think it has to start with the culture. You know, if you've got a legalistic culture, that's like, you know, anti challenger, and you've got to get, you know, every response on Facebook approved by three attorneys community isn't going to work. Now, in terms, you know, in terms of convincing the boss, here's the thing, that gives me a lot of hope. I mean, look, if you're in marketing today, you know, you've got to be open minded, you know, you've got to urgently be embracing these new ideas. And so I think good leaders are going to read this book and say, hell yeah, you know, I don't think it's going to take that much convincing. Because like I said, your chapter three, the whole chapter is the business case. It's it's just, it's unassailable. It's not just my view, it's backed by lots of research and data. Now, where do you start? If you've got the culture to do it? The first part is we hinted at this earlier, this intersecting culture. So and I've got a whole chapter on this considering, what what are you trying to achieve as a company? What do you stand for? And how could you have a bigger impact and achieve even more? If you had your customers working with you? Where is the intersection? An example that's easy for everyone to relate to? Is Patagonia, immediately, you know, they stand for, you know, taking care of the earth, responsible outdoor recreation, you know, and I have a very close friend, who said, I will only buy Patagonia, I belong to that brand I am in I have an unassailable emotional connection to that brand. So purpose is really this idea that we're working towards something bigger and better together. Now, how do we start? Usually, in every example, I think the biggest community I profiled in this book is tWitch, even twitch started with, like, 10 people. You know, it's like people who are using this live streaming app, to watch each other play video games. And, you know, the guy that started the company at first resisted it, it was like, this is not where I want to go. But there was so much energy there. He, you know, basically, you know, created Twitch to satisfy this energy. You and I, when we participated in this community event over in Bournemouth, it started with people going to lunch together, five people meeting every every month for lunch, then they said, Hey, can we bring a few more soon they had a whole table. Soon, they had a whole room. Mark master said, let's, let's organise this. Let's be a little more intentional about this. So normally, in almost every case, I can think of it starts with just a few people who are already there could be your most passionate customers could be a group of friends. Now, the hard part is really leading and sustaining. Because so much of leading, nurturing and growing a community is counterintuitive, to wait to the normal marketing leadership mindset about you're giving up control. And that like the market message, and value is coming from the customer flow, the customer ideas instead of, you know, I got I failed in this trap. When I started my community, I thought, well, people are going to want to join this community, because they're interested in the same things I am. I'm going to start a chat room about personal branding and writing books and public speaking. Those are the MTS rooms in the whole place. Because the community said, Nope, we're going to be talking about the metaverse, we're going to be talking about AI. We're going to be talking about web three. Let's go there. And they were right. You know, I'm a much better consultant, writer teacher, because of where they're taking me and think about scaling that idea for a brand. But it takes a different kind of leadership mindset to trust the community that way.

Eric: So if you know a lot of the value, and I think there's, I think the value of community, if done well is multifaceted for a business. But if we're thinking about, okay, you've been able to get started getting started, you've started to build a community, a lot of marketers, particularly in today's environment, are forced to kind of justify what they're doing in their investment. So how do you think about measuring or making the case for the value of community? If part of it is yet to your example of, you know, the women's clothing company? That seems a little bit closer to kind of a commercial end of things? But the conversation around you know, value as this two way street, or marketing? Is this two way street? And consumers or community bringing product ideas in the business? It's a little bit harder to quantify. How would you package that up in terms of someone looking at well, how do I put a scorecard against this isn't doing well is not doing well as a driving value for the business.

Mark: Yeah, well, thanks for coming back to that, because that was that was another one of the key things you had in your in your other question, and I, you know, I couldn't keep it organised in my mind. Well, so thanks for coming back to that, because it's a very, very important question. Fact is probably the most important question. Because, like, I think it's like 92% of community managers say we're creating value for the company, but only 10% have any measurement to prove that. And here's the major mindset change, and I think you'll really relate to this. In the chapter in the book about measurement, I give the example comparing Gatorade to Powerade, Gatorade, sponsors, stadiums, they sponsor the Superbowl, they are becoming irrelevant. In sports, cultural moments. They have 80% market share of a $30 billion sports drink market. Distant distant distant number two is Powerade. What are they doing? endevour displays, advertising coupons. So they're kind of doing this director, you know, performance marketing. Now. When we have this tradition in America, I know you're familiar with it that at the end of a big successful match, the players sneak up behind the coach and they pour the whole vat of Gatorade over the winning coach. And everybody's waiting for it. It's captured on TV. Everybody laughs about it. In the in the put in the recent college football playoffs. Unusually, an unusual move. Powerade was on the sideline. So there was this big fat that said, Powerade, they're sneaking up behind the coach. And here's what the TV announcer said. Here comes the Gatorade bath. Now, Gatorade has become this beloved, iconic brand, by becoming relevant to their consumers and to the culture. Does the Gatorade bath sell more Gatorade? Obviously it does. Can you measure that? No. That's brand marketing. Now you've got to you got to look at other leading indicators in community. Obviously, eventually you got to get to sales. In community. Normally, engagement is the leading indicator of the vitality of the consumer of the community. Look, I have been so critical of engagement as a metric. I'm the leading indicator of engagement as a metric when it comes to social media, or content marketing, but in community, it's a whole new world. Sephora has a community of 6 million snow 60 million people. They have brick and mortar stores in every significant city in the world, probably. However 80% of their sales come from their community. The person who leaves their community, I think they're spending a billion dollars a year on their community. The person who leaves their community says our leading metric is engagement. Because that shows people are coming back. They're connected, what we're doing is relevant. We're connecting, we're staying tuned. They're they're connecting to each other. So it's it's a weird world way to look at and I think another key metric is is the content in the community, going outside the community because you're creating advocacy, which is better than any advertisement you could ever, ever make, and that's relatively easy to measure as well. So I think engagement, you don't even have to have a brand marketing lens. That's why most communities are focused on self service and transactions. Because it keeps the accountants happy. It's easy to measure, but you're missing the bigger opportunity, which is the emotional connection, and the brand value. One of the ways that I think about it is that everything that gets measured matters, we're so focused companies are so focused on what's the number if I can track it, then it's meaningful to me. And sometimes you put numbers in there just to have numbers. But not everything that matters can be measured, especially now, especially now, because you can either, we were just talking about Gen Z and discord, right? You can, you can either keep up with the pulse of culture, or you can measure, you probably can't do both. And this might sound scary. But what I would say is, look, take 10% of your budget, or 15% of your budget, and start to experiment with these other ideas, to try to keep pace with what's happening in the world. Don't get caught in the scaffolding of media contracts and advertising contracts, that you know, your dashboards, you know, your 10, your decade old dashboard. If you get caught in that scaffolding, it's just keeping you in dysfunctional behaviours, to at least take some of your budget and start to experiment and things that might be more difficult to measure.

Eric: And that's been the most consistent thing that's come up after doing. I don't know how many of these have we done 5060 of these interviews with CMOS thought leaders like yourself entrepreneurs, that idea of purposeful structured innovation, risk taking 7020 10 frameworks take 10% of your budget, to do some percentage of your time, money or focus that is purposefully designed to make you think and act differently and explore new things. But the other takeaway that I have from from how you answered that question just now was, you know, just I think there's a difference between trying to figure out whether something is working in a quantified way, and trying to prove that it's driving sales. So there, you know, engagement. There is an exercise, if you're serious about community building that is well how do I know if this is doing well? So maybe the buy in of community is good for the growth of my business? Is more of the not everything that matters can be measured? But am I doing this? Right? I think there is, you know, time and money to be spent on how do you actually start to build a scorecard and measure that. So, Mark, I'm gonna let you go. And we're almost out of time, I have a bit of a curveball question for the last one. So I'll give you a second. I'll give you a second if you if you want to think about it, because I think it's tough. You've done a bunch of these interviews about the new book. What is the question that people haven't asked you yet that you think they should?

Mark: Great one. Here's something that I hinted at in the book. But it was just too deep of a rabbit hole to really go down. This is so interesting. This could be a whole new book, if you want to write a book, maybe this is your idea. The biggest problem for companies today is drain, especially in the tech world, is drain. Because everyone you know, if you're a bright young person, you want to get unshackled and you want to be a remote worker, you want to travel the world you want to do your own thing you want your dream is to start up a business. So that mean, look, I can't even describe how many conversations I've had on this topic with people working in people in the tech world is drain, drain, drain. Look, we're giving them the free lunch. We've got ping pong tables in the lobby. It's still not enough. All right. Here's what about the role of community inside company? What if you created a level of emotional switching cost somehow inside the company? I think that is an idea that could be particularly relevant. And I just wrote one sentence about that in in the book, and I just said it's too much for me to cover. It's out of The scope of this book, but I think I sort of left that hint there in the book that people really haven't picked up on. And I think, looking at this as an HR strategy could be revolutionary. Yeah,

Eric: I think there's so much potential there for all the same reasons that we've covered, focusing more on the external and the marketing side. But certainly internal and for a lot of businesses, you know, certainly ours right now. Talent, attraction, and retention is actually the thing that keeps me up at night as a CEO more than anything else.

Mark: Oh, my gosh, it's everything, isn't it?

Eric: this has been, I feel like we're just getting started, we need to start booking three hours for these conversations. You're

Mark: my favourite man, you're my favourite.

Eric: I appreciate that. So please go check out the book. We will link to it in the show notes. And I'm looking forward to the next time. Let's make sure it's not even we're not waiting for the next book. We'll do another one of these about something else. All right, man.

Mark: Thank you so much,

Eric: Thank you for coming on again. Have a good one.

Eric: Scratch is a production of rival. We are a marketing innovation consultancy that helps businesses develop strategies and capabilities to grow faster. If you want to learn more about us check out we are If you want to connect with me, email me at or find me on LinkedIn. If you enjoyed today's show, please subscribe, share with anyone you think might enjoy it. Please do leave us a review. Thanks for listening and see you next week.

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