From Buying to Believing

Courtesy of Christopher Madden

If you want to succeed beyond your wildest dream as an entrepreneur (or an intrapreneur), don't just create products or services. Instead, start a religion, or better yet, a cult.

The best organisations don't just push out great products or services. They start movements and create causes. They turn jaded old ideas upside down. They spark off ripples which resonate so much with their followers that these become giant tsunamis of market revolution.

Some of the best examples of cult companies include Apple, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, and Nike. While product supremacy is still a must for these category leaders, what's more important are the values which they stand for.

Apple is an emblem for cool, style, and cutting-edge technology that is invisible.
Starbucks represents the third place away from home and work - a caffeinated sanctuary for the senses. Coca-cola is perceived as the icon of refreshment, available where you best need it. Nike of course is about an active, get-up-and-go lifestyle.

While branding and experiential marketing helps to uplift an organisation's potential for success, it is far more important for customers to participate in its cause. You must have a story to tell - one which captivates, motivates and inspires your followers to do greater things with their lives (and reward you for it).

Making money is no longer legit as a reason for entrepreneurship. Creating a revolution is.

To do so, you need to look deep within your organisation and question what you truly stand for. What are the reasons for you to turn up for work each day? What do you tell your family and friends about your work? Ask yourself if your passion and conviction for the job is deep enough for you to volunteer for your organisation even without being paid.

Next, you need to find out if your corporate beliefs strike a chord with your customers. Is what you're doing something that they care about? How different is it from the next available competitor? Don't compete in the crowded marketplace and offer the same "me-too" benefits! Instead, find a place in the Blue Ocean instead, employing tools like Value Innovation to stand out from the rest.

Thirdly, you need to find a way to embody these beliefs and make them come to life. Are your executives and leaders walking emissaries of the corporate religion? Does everybody on the line talk the talk and walk the walk? Seek to make everybody your corporate envoys.

Fourthly, like any good religion, you need to have way of getting the message across. No, I am not just talking about pamplets like the famous Four Spiritual Laws. Instead, you should look at authoring a compelling chronicle that stretches across different media - each told in the best way suited for the platform.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you need to congregate and assemble your brand believers. Hire a community manager and initiate the formation of fan clubs across online and offline platforms. Find all kinds of excuses to meet them on Facebook or face-to-face. Build long-term relationships and encourage them to share with each other.

The new era of competitive advantage is no longer about being the cheapest producer, having the most outstanding products, or providing the most fabulous customer experience alone. Instead, what matters most is to create a compelling mission for your followers - one that they can believe in, spread to their associates, and truly embrace for the long-term.

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