Uprisings and movements are happening all around the world. The Egyptian regime fell. The Libyans overthrew Muammar Gaddafi. The seeds of the Arab Spring are about to bring democracy to Syria. Europe’s economic troubles sparked demonstrations and sometimes riots in England, Greece and Spain. Anti-capitalist demonstrations at Wall Street spread very quickly to other parts of the world. A small, unimpressive protest can start a movement. A small protest, when it provokes a police reaction, becomes big and attracts attention. If there is a strong, shared idea behind it, it can easily turn into a movement.
Scott Goodson underlines in his book the power of movements: “They can start out with just a small group of people who believe passionately in something. And they can end up changing the culture… around the world.” Movements today can spread like a wildfire because of communications technology and social media. Even though a movement can spread digitally, it still needs to have a physical-world presence: in a park, in the town square or on the streets. Once a movement gets started, it can be very hard to predict or control where it will go, how it will evolve or change, when it will end or what it will ultimately achieve.
Ordinary people who notice a small movement wonder, “How can they be part of something like that?” or “How can they help?” While people today are more connected in one sense by technology, they are also more disconnected from their neighbors and from the traditional community gatherings of the past. “Movements are becoming the new gathering points. At the same time, movements are offering a means of finding reassurance and purpose in a world that has become increasingly unsettling,” Goodson wrote in his book. He quoted Bob Johansen as saying, “In times of turbulence, anything that gives people a sense of meaning tends to grow.”
“[B]usiness has relied on a marketing model focused on persuading individuals to buy products or services,” according to the book. However, the new and improved offers presented by commercials are not attracting attention today. No one listens to you, especially if you’re talking about your product. But we listen to each other, and we do care about a lot of things other than products: cleaning up the environment, reinventing ourselves, solving social problems, eating healthy and countless other passions. Today’s business world has the chance to use a new business model called “movement marketing.” The business world should start figuring out what people care about and find a way to be a part of that conversation.
Right now, some of the most established companies in the world -- Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo among them -- are starting to change. Those companies, instead of using conventional the 30-second TV spot marketing model, have begun to transition to movement marketing. “The challenge for these companies -- or for entrepreneurs, politicians, and change makers of all types who want to tap into the growing power of movements -- is figuring out how to align themselves with existing movements or, better yet, how to spark new ones,” Goodson wrote. Understanding and connecting with movements is critical to the success of marketing and, by extension, the future of business.
We have to turn conventional marketing approaches upside-down. Instead of marketing and advertisements that target the individual, there needs to be a focus on people in interconnected groups. According to Goodson, “Instead of attempting to persuade people to believe an ad message, marketers must try to tap into what it is that people already believe and care about.”