Posts Tagged ‘Marrus’

Seth Godin has a new book called Tribes. Before it was published, back in July, he built a social community around it called Triiibes that I was fortunate enough to be able to join.  (By fortunate, I mean that as a regular reader of his blog I read the single notice he posted about the new book and a limited, exclusive offer he made: buy an advanced copy of the book and you can join this unique community.) After a very limited time, membership to the community closed, and won’t be reopened again until some time this month.

In all honesty, I’m not really a social media guy. I rarely visit my facebook or myspace pages. I under-utilize LinkedIn. But I’ve been a more regular visitor and poster to Triiibes. I’ve gotten great value and given a little back, too. It’s been a great experience for me, because I finally understand the passion and connection that social media members can feel about their community.

The most interesting aspect of Triiibes, for me, was the casebook that we Triiibes members created, a companion e-book to Seth’s own book, Tribes. That casebook is now online. You can get yourself a pdf copy of The Tribes Casebook here.

The case study I wrote was called “The Tribe of Marrus.” It appears on page 79 of the ebook. It’s about my friend, Marrus, an artist, who I also blogged about in a post here called “Portrait of the artist as an integrated marketer.

There are plenty of great case studies about tribes of all kinds. It’s excellent reading, and I highly recommend it.

I’ve been reading Seth Godin for about 8 years now. I’ve seen him speak more than once. I’ve watched with glee each time he rewrites the rules of publishing when he comes up with a new way to market his latest book.

He’s been a leading pioneer of “the new marketing” and an honest, inspirational voice. He’s one of the most published business book writers ever, a voice respected by the people running the most successful companies in the world.

Every once in a while, I see one of his books on the shelf of a client or a prospect, and we instantly get into a vibrant discussion about Seth and new marketing. Invariably, we end up reaching a point in the discussion where one of us or the other says, “How come everybody isn’t getting into this stuff?”

I’ve discussed Seth’s thinking with other marketing professionals I know, usually ones with decades of experience and perspective. They frequently net out at the answer that there’s always new thinking that argues that the old thinking is wrong or outdated, and only time will tell. Until then, they’re not ready to throw out the old ways.  They’re too invested in them, and they’ve worked for all these years, they say.

Not me. As a marketer, my only real rule is do what works best (as long as it’s ethical and honest.) Anything less isn’t worth doing, is it?

Not only am I a member of triiibes, but now that I think about it, it turns out I’m a member of The Tribe of Seth Godin, too.

Can someone please explain to me why everyone who works in advertising and marketing isn’t one too?

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My friend, the artist named Marrus, is the best integrated marketer I know. That’s because she is her brand, she lives her brand, she presents a consistent brand image to everyone she meets, and she has a heck of a story to tell.

When she’s not fighting for the right to show her work on Jackson Square in New Orleans (Click here, then see pages 7 and 9 of the newspaper pdf), Marrus travels from Renaissance Fair to Kink Festival to Science Fiction Convention, selling her art and painting faces.

Her tribe is far flung, she’s always on the road, and yet she’s always connected to her community via the internet. And because of this connection, she actually makes a living as an artist, mostly from sales of her prints online and at these events.

She started LiveJournaling because it was the logical way to stay in touch with her far flung tribe throughout the nomadic lifestyle she’d forged. Her posts during and from post-Katrina New Orleans, where she’s rebuilding a home and studio, and those of her partner Jay, who geared up and went back into the ravaged zone and was soon an integral part of the rebuild in some tiny town in Mississippi, were riveting and real, and public.

Her growing involvement with her community of fans has been hard to keep up with. The more popular she gets, the harder it is to answer every post, meet every fan. Like anyone who dives into the Groundswell, she has joined a conversation that she may have started, but no longer controls.

She’s writing an autobiography-journal sort of thing, and I was privileged to read a manuscript and give my opinions. Marrus is a person who lives in the now, vibrantly, and so the last thing I would have expected is that her book about her life would feel anything at all like hanging out with her in real life did. Except it did. For the three days I read the book, it was like hanging out and having one long extended conversation with her. Like a holograph, any one slice of Jen can deliver a fully integrated experience.

She was even the subject of a question I asked Seth Godin when I attended one of his paradigm shifting book tour appearances for The Dip. The question? It was hard enough for creators to have any distance between themselves and their fans before the internet, and blogging. Now, building a community online, a relationship with your fans, is all about personal relationships, answering posts and emails, opening up. And once you’ve built it, you fail to nurture it at your own risk. So, how do you manage community growth when you are your organization and you have limited time? (His answer, as always, was on point (paraphrased from memory, so be kind, Seth): be honest and renegotiate your relationship with your community in a way they can understand, and then own the consequences.)

Marrus is a microcosm of every brand out there that realizes they don’t own the conversation, even when the conversation is intimately about their brand. She’s got scalability issues, budget issues, resource issues, risk management issues (she’s been burned out, flooded out, and victimized by unfair and uneven government intervention), marketing issues, advertising issues, inventory issues, customer service issues… you get the point.

And yet her brand is fully integrated, 360 degrees, 24/7, always showing a consistent message to everyone she meets from every angle. She doesn’t know whether the kid whose face she’s painting is the child of a potential buyer of her original art. She doesn’t know if the person trying to get her attention at a show is one of her most devoted fans or a blogger or the art critic for the Times or just somebody who wants to know where the bathroom is. And she doesn’t care. Her customer service department is fully integrated with her marketing department, able to make the right choice to deliver customer satisfaction and a good user experience with every interaction. Her advertising department would never say something that Legal wouldn’t approve. And her CEO champions every new venture, no matter how cutting edge or low tech, regardless of ROI, as long as it’s in line with her brand integrity.

So, can someone please explain to me why every company and every brand isn’t striving to be more like Marrus?