Do you want to know what a marketing cult looks like? Search out your closest Apple Store and go take a look.
The latest version of the iPhone was plagued by severe problems that would cause customers of other products to abandon ship and look to another company with a better product. But, even the most dissatisfied customers are keeping their phones because they are the ‘best designed’ phones available and ‘Apple makes the best products.’
They forgive a massively defective product because they love the company and they love being part of the hip and cool crowd that pays a premium to own the ‘best designed’ products on the market.
That is a marketing cult operating in high gear.
What Is a Marketing Cult?
Cult style marketing is about selling the experience of owning the products and the aura of being a member of a ‘select group’ once you own them. It’s not primarily about price, or features, or value – it’s about the identity of a group and belonging.
Now, I don’t use the word cult to imply that these marketers are evil or don’t deliver valuable products, but rather to demonstrate the intense passion the customers have about being a customer in the first place. (And, of course I’m using a ‘loaded’ word to sound controversial and pique curiosity to get people to read this article – polarization is another cult building tactic.) In the case of an honest to goodness cult, you’d be asked to sell all your worldly possessions, leave your family, move to some compound in the middle of nowhere and chant songs about the benevolent leader all day 🙂
Seth Godin has written about this topic, but he uses the more inspiring word ‘tribe’ to describe the group.
Cult style marketing is effective because it uses some of the underlying psychology that gets manipulated by the people who start cults. This style of marketing focuses on the leader of the group, the lifestyle of those on the inside, and an attitude that people on the outside ‘just don’t get it!’ They have their own language that is only understood by those on the ‘inside.’ When you market to a cult you don’t sell a product, you sell a ‘lifestyle choice.’
I Am a Cult Member
Turns out that I’m a member of 2 ‘marketing cults’ – who knew?
Fortunately, I have been paying attention to how this happened and studying the tactics and techniques that lead me to join in the first place.
I didn’t set out to become an expert in cult style marketing, I just wanted to learn how to build an online business and I started seeking out people who were succeeding and then studying what they did.
Recently I joined Frank Kern’s Mass Control program to learn how this ‘evil marketing genius’ can get people to fall all over themselves trying to give him money. Guess what, Frank knows the psychology behind building a cult and uses it to build a devoted group of people who want to buy things from him (like me – happy member of the tribe.)
The cool thing is that you don’t have to be a marketing genius like Steve Jobs or Frank Kern to build a profitable group of passionate followers. The first marketing cult I joined is run by a very nice guy from New Jersey and grew very organically from an ebook he wrote called “5 Bucks a Day.”
How A Nice Guy From New Jersey Built A Passionate Tribe Of Followers
Dennis Becker is an incredibly nice and generous guy – the sort of fellow who would make Seth Godin smile, I think. He wrote “5 Bucks a Day” to help other marketers develop a more focused approach to applying all the knowledge they were acquiring about Internet marketing. The book helped many people just like me start to break down their big dreams into small goals that would add up to a real business over time. Dennis shared his personal story and some ‘common wisdom’ that we just don’t think about enough.
Now, Frank Kern says that one of the first things you should do to build a ‘cult’ of your own is to tell them something they already know, but present it as though it is a gospel revelation.
“5 Bucks a Day” taught people to stop hopping from one trend to another and focus on one small project that could make you $5 per day until it was up and running. So the revelation was, “you are not succeeding because you don’t focus on one thing long enough to make any progress.”
Dennis shared his story because this shift in thinking really did change his business and make it much more profitable. But, it also had all of us who read it nodding our heads in agreement. We knew this, he validated what we knew deep down, and he showed us that this was a path to real success.
The seeds were planted.
Bonding The Group And Inventing A Language
Dennis was a bit surprised at how well the “5 Bucks a Day” ebook was received. He had a nice list of email addresses from customers and one day he announced that he was starting a free membership forum for owners of the ebook. Now the group had a place to hang out and we could talk to Dennis on a regular basis.
Very quickly we started to develop a list of special abbreviations like 5BAD as we spent hours discussing how we were applying our new found focus on our Internet marketing efforts. We were creating our own language.
Dennis participated every day in the discussions and gave us tons of free resources to help us improve our success. He encouraged members to ‘get out there’ and start doing things instead of just talking about them. He personally welcomed every new member and celebrated every success on the forum. He also pulled up short whenever someone asked him for details about exactly how he was making his major income – and we asked!
Secret Knowledge Is Revealed To The Elite Members
Then, one day, things got even more exclusive. Dennis started a new paid monthly membership forum called “Earn $1k a Day” where he ‘spilled his guts’ and gave us a step-by-step blueprint for making money using his (until now) secret process. He invited a small group of his most active members to join first and lay the groundwork for the rest who would follow.
This is a critically important step when creating a tribe/cult. Your passionate first followers need to be trained to go out and recruit others. First followers are the key to rapid growth of the group. You need to praise and reward them when they bring in new followers.
Now, all us freshly minted E1KAD (note the insider acronym) members began to follow our leader and the community grew. Dennis had built himself a passionate community of people who looked to him for inspiration and who now paid him a monthly fee to be part of the group.
The “Earn $1k a Day” membership site is still a great place and I’ve learned – and earned a good bit of money – since I joined up. The other members have supported my projects and I’ve benefited from the reports and software that are regularly posted for the members.
Dennis Becker ended up creating his own private ‘cult’ around the notion of focusing small for big results and by nurturing a tribe who sees the world in a similar way. And now, it’s turned into a valuable business for him and spawned the successful careers of several other marketers.
It is safe to say that Dennis Becker did not set out to create his own E1KAD and 5BAD ‘cults’. They grew organically from his success publishing the ebook and from the community he nurtured around that core idea. He gave a lot of time, energy, and content to his members and it grew into something pretty amazing.
The Greatest Cult-Building Evil Genius In Internet Marketing
Frank Kern sets out on his cult building efforts very intentionally.
The psychology behind the process is the same for both of these marketers, but Frank uses a much more focused and accelerated plan to get a cult going overnight and to fire up his followers and get them to fight for a chance to throw large sums of money at him.
I didn’t know anything about Frank Kern 12 months before I ended up giving him 10 times more money in one day than I have given to Dennis over nearly 2 years (and Dennis has actually spent a lot of personal time and energy helping me build my business.)
Fortunately, I have yet to give one dime to Steve Jobs. I listen to my Sansa Fuze MP3 player and talk on my Nokia phone while typing on my Windows computer (I finally upgraded to a real ‘smart phone’ thanks to Republic Wireless!) Now, you’ll have to excuse me. I’ve got to start running before the Apple fanatics start flaming me.
Who Is Following You?
If you want real success for your Internet marketing business, you need to start thinking about building your own tribe/cult. You don’t have to swing for the fences to have real success that will fatten up your bank account. A few hundred devoted followers will go a long way.