Belonging to a tribe

In the Bay Area, Patagonia is everywhere.

If you’ve been hiking in the Marin Headlands, the Oakland Hills, or down in the Santa Cruz mountains, you would think it’s a uniform.

Before COVID, if you walked the streets of San Francisco or Oakland on a workday, you might wonder where they’re handing out Patagonia jackets.

It’s likely we’ve all seen the videos of the Tech and Finance Bro’s wearing Patagonia. In the Bay, it’s even more widespread than that.

It’s the Patagonia Tribe.

It’s the one Patagonia built. They tell a story that resonates with their target audience.

An interesting piece to the Patagonia Tribe is they didn’t have to change behavior.

Naturally, we want to be part of a tribe. We want to belong.

Seth Godin wrote a book about this, aptly called Tribes.

In Debbie Millman’s book, Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits, she and Daniel Pink discuss this.

There is an entire marketing specialty – that comes from Anthropologie – dedicated to studying this tribe phenomenon as it relates to brands.

We want to be in a Tribe. And, we’re ok with that Tribe being driven by a brand.

It’s our natural desire.

Brands should build Tribes.

Just like Patagonia.

Maybe I should finally get a Patagonia jacket?

Finding a specific audience

Bicycles and coffee.

Two things I hold dear.

It happens that there is a coffee shop in Oakland that is dedicated to these two things.

Bicycle Coffee.

They deliver coffee to their shops and retailers on bicycles.

It helps their coffee is delicious.

It’s the closest I’ve found to the best coffee I’ve had, which is Wackers Kaffee in Frankfurt. I wrote about them a few weeks ago.

Bicycle Coffee is becoming more popular in Oakland, with a new location in the base of the building I used to work in.

They hit a specific audience. People who love coffee and bicycles.

Getting specific and focusing on your niche. This is great marketing out in the wild.

They got me. Two things I love combined into one.

Coffee and bicycles.

It feels like it was made for me.

I guess that’s the point of great marketing.

Storytelling done right

Marketers understand how difficult it is to ensure – with confidence – you get a highly personalized message to the right person, on the right channel, at the right time.

Typically, you need some kind of centralized data driver.

Traditionally, this would be your CRM (customer relationship management system).

Which, the name makes sense. You’re trying to build a relationship.

But, there are a lot of reasons why this isn’t the best solution for every business.

Now, I’m not going to get into all those reasons.

What I want to get into is the company who took this pain – getting a highly personalized message to the right person, on the right channel, at the right time – and turned it into a story.


They kicked off, with a collection of other businesses, a campaign called “CRM is not enough”.

They did exactly what marketing storytellers need to do.

They picked up on a pain point.

They crafted a story around that pain.

Then, let that story lead to a solution.


Rarely do we see such beautiful storytelling in B2B marketing.

Storytelling and branding matter in B2B marketing.

Segment, and the CRM is not enough campaign, are living proof it can be done.

Getting a late start

In 2001, the song I Wanna Talk About Me came out.

It was the first time I had heard of Toby Keith.

The song was huge for him. It’s safe to say this was the song that solidified him on the Country Music map.

He was 40.

Now, he had been around and had a few smaller hits through the 90s, but this particular hit was huge.

He had released his first country album less than a decade earlier.

It came out in his early 30s.

In music, to have your first album come out in your 30s, and to have the hit that finally solidifies you on the music scene at 40, is not common.

In reality, you’re ancient.

You’re not going to make a 30 under 30 list. And you narrowly missed the 40 under 40 list.

While Toby Keith got a late start, which I admire, he also became quite prolific after that release in 2001.

He released 5 albums prior to 2001, excluding a Christmas album.

After his 2001 album release, excluding greatest hits and Christmas albums, Toby Keith has released 13 albums. All of those came in the 15 years since the 2001 release.

Almost double the rate he was releasing prior.

That’s what makes Toby Keith impressive.

It’s not that he had a groundbreaking musical breakthrough in his late teens or early 20s, it’s that he has continued to be creative over decades.

30 under 30 lists are overrated and they’re a fairly useless measure of success.

Can you sustain your work for 3 decades?

That question, and measuring your endurance, is far more interesting.

Is my strategy working?

Have you tried to launch a blog?

It’s a great lesson in continuous execution.

You plan the blog. Launch your website. Develop your content strategy.

Then, you hit publish on your first post.

Crickets. Nothing happens.

But, that’s to be expected.

Now, you might be able to buy traffic, but organically, nothing is going to happen.

After you publish a few posts and webpages, and you continue to have zero traffic, you might think, is my strategy working?

It’s likely your strategy is just fine.

What needs to happen, is continuing to execute for a long period.

I’d say 12-18 months.

Come up with your idea. Build your strategy. Then, hunker down and write your blog posts for 12-18 months.

And just like that, it took 18 months for your blog to become an overnight success.

This might true for more than just a blog.