Incorporating Mini Movements Into Your Business Model

When you consider your business model (which includes your marketing efforts), you generally concentrate on these core components:

  1. Why will people pay you? (money, votes, donations)
  2. What does it cost you to sell your item…margins?
  3. What protects you from competition, price-feature battles?
  4. How will you turn an agnostic audience into loyal customers?

Early on when transactions had no costs, doing anything at a huge scale was very cheap. In order to be successful (a subjective term), you didn’t have to be very big at all. Some efforts don’t look at revenue as the only sign of success, and it’s probably safe to assume they have no real business model.

Identifying tribes and determining the success of working with them is not a new idea; the concept of tribe mentality or acting in a way that benefits the tribe has been around since cavemen. But, the concept of bringing people together, of building tribes, makes the internet is the best friend of people focusing on the third component, differentiating yourself from the competition. Once a network is in place, it is extremely difficult for someone else to disrupt it. I’ll add to this that the network must be active, relevant and provide value. 

The internet, it’s “isms” and even some of our online behaviors are permeating our culture. It is affecting business models offline as well. Local t-shirt and records stores, traditional advertising firms, and political campaign have different business model than they did ten years ago—can you imagine Dukakis, Stockton, Bush Snr, or Dan Quayle, figuring out what tweeting means?

Viral marketing and the growth of cash-free marketing means that people can spread an idea farther and faster than ever before. It also makes it far cheaper for a competitor to enter the market.

Here are three examples of companies leveraging online to create mini movements:

Company Technology Goals Outcome
ATT YouTubeTraditional Commercials Highlight small businesses using ATT technology in order to execute their business; more phones, more places. A top-down use of online media.ATT is not going to completely invert their business model of selling phones or laying cable throughout the world to establish service. How to get that 100 year old message to sound fresh?ATT started highlighting small businesses doing good in their communities and enjoy the halo effect of companies with mission. Not only is TOMs Shoes doing great things by giving shoes away, they would not be able to do so without ATT phones. Link: ATT commercial
Barka Foundation YouTubeBlogWeb site


– Standard page

– Causes page (to accept donations)

Documentary Film

Increase audience of donors in order to solicit funds to maintain programs they care about. A bottom-up use of online mediaBarka is a classic example of an organization that started with a seed of passion for a particular cause and uses grass roots efforts to secure support. They’ve established key partnerships, are leveraging online media to get the word out, and use online media to highlight their offline efforts.Adopting Peace Corps-style projects such as organizing a 500 mile walk to raise funds for the drilling of a well in La Petite is one example of an offline event that relies on online community, donations, guerilla press, etc.  (you can track their progress on their facebook page and make a donation to help their cause). 
Dove YouTubeTV Commercials In this now-famous commercial Dove chose to differentiate themselves by starting their own movement – redefining beauty. Top-down, generating a grass roots movement.Here is a large company that could easily sit back and be of the opinion that they do not need to participate in “new media” for the simple fact that everyone needs soap.Dove reshaped the premise that rather than needing soap, among a long list of other products, the  women who used Dove were already beautiful – and needed nothing else. Literally.Once launched, the message gained momentum and now Dove has a Campaign for Beauty campaign featuring real women as their spokes models and a nationwide self esteem work shop tour.

Once an idea like this is out, it belongs to the community, Dove can’t really control much more about the message of self esteem than Nike can – they can offer a framework for discussion…a community.


What mini movement is driving your business?

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