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Why this store erupted into applause (3 tips for making customers feel part of your tribe)


Recently, I walked into a store in Brisbane to buy a computer. I found a 300 m2 space crammed with people. The vibe was hot, full of people lusting after technology, gathering, trying and buying new tools and toys.

Then, five minutes later, something happened that stopped me in my tracks: the whole store erupted into cheers. Everyone stopped what they were doing, literally hundreds of people, and started applauding with vigour.

The reason? This wasn’t just any store; it was the Apple store in Brisbane.

The person two tables away had bought their first Mac and to Apple it was well worthy of a celebration. The staff were visibly elated and the customers were looking around with the joy of being a part of a special moment in someone’s life.

What is tribe marketing?

Do you celebrate your customers and clients publicly? Do you make them feel part of your tribe?

As a customer, I buy products and services for a range of reasons. Given the choice, when I spend my money on a product or service:

  • I want to buy something that will meet and exceed my needs;
  • I want to buy something that will make me feel good at that moment; and
  • I want to buy something that I will feel good about afterwards for time to come.

So whether I buy a shirt, a house or a professional service, these three things can be examined and applied to consider how I should value my purchase and help me select a provider.

Furthermore, they can also be used to drive me to gain a connection with a business, one that I am going to refer and return to time and time again.

It is an Apple tradition to celebrate people joining their “tribe” or community. And this celebratory cheering for joining their clan is one of the simplest yet finest demonstrations of “tribe marketing” I have ever seen.

A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. Tribe marketing is another term for building a community around your product or service — for making your customers feel like they are a part of something special.

After all, the most important thing in your customer’s experience is how it makes them feel and how strong the after-effects of that feeling are to compel them to buy again, or refer you and your product or service to those who can buy in the future.

Back in the Apple store, just minutes later, it happened again: the room cheered in celebration. This happened more than six times during the ten or fifteen minutes I was in-store, each due to the purchase of a Mac or iPad by a first-time Apple buyer.

It made me, as a customer, feel good to watch this ceremony of celebration, and it certainly made me feel confident that I was making the right decision when I purchased their product minutes later. “I” was a part of their tribe… and that feeling of belonging was wonderfully reassuring.

Three tribe marketing tips

But how many businesses take this approach? How many make their clients or customers feel good for choosing to work with them? And how can we do this more effectively in a locally relevant way?

Put Initiative First: Look around; you’ll see that the marketplace celebrates new initiatives. Things that are fresh, stylish, innovative and new. So what are you doing to make your products and services innovative? Are you adopting new technologies, leading the industry, or building new processes? Tell people about it and attract them to you for your innovation.

Create a Compelling Need: People like to feel like they “need” or “want to buy” the service or product on offer. This is what Apple do very well, making you feel like you are part of an important movement to revolutionary technology that you “need to be a part of”. When you are considering buying Apple, you feel like a leader in the tech space, or a part of a group of dynamic people who are at the cutting edge.

Celebrate your Client’s Purchase: Your Customer has chosen you, so make them feel like they made the right choice and leave some lasting feel-good after-effects. Stop and celebrate new (or existing) clients after they buy from you. Say to them, “We are excited to have you in our tribe!” by taking the time to consider how you want your clients to feel after they have bought from you. What is the after-effect you want them to have? Do your best to create it.

It was certainly inspiring to watch Apple create such a vibrant “feeling” in this small room in humble Queensland, but when you see the vibe in the room, you can completely understand why they have people crowding rooms all over the world, begging to buy their products.

Think about how you can do the same on a scale that is relevant for your business.

Rebecca Wilson is managing director of Stretch Marketing, which specialises in providing strategic business development advice, and founder of the recent not-for-profit website FloodDiscounts.com.au. Follow Rebecca on her blog: www.marketingrack.com.au

Image by darkuncle