Finding Bigfoot is a program that airs on Animal Planet, with four individuals covering the country searching for the elusive creature (whether Bigfoot actually exists, I will leave that up for others to debate).
If you watch it, even one episode, you will find that it can teach us the critical element about marketing. I gave in and watched an episode with my boys the other evening and it occurred to me as to why it has achieved success.
It's about the tribe.
Author, blogger and speaker Seth Godin has written an entire book on this concept of tribes (naturally titled Tribes), and it is in full display with Finding Bigfoot.
The four Squatchers, as they are called, travel to various states in their quest to find further evidence for Bigfoot. One of the four is a self-proclaimed skeptic which adds nicely to the narrative. Part of what they do though, and in my opinion the main part, is they hold town-hall meeting with locals in the area who come out to share their Bigfoot encounters.
Why is this so critical? It's building the tribe, connecting the tribe, and the four Squatchers are, by default, becoming the leaders of this tribe.
As Seth would argue, Finding Bigfoot did not create this tribe. They merely tapped into it, and set up four individuals to lead it. This tribe already existed in large numbers. There are some who are the die-hard believers, some who are not sure, and even some who are just plain curious. Together though they form a tribe large enough to support a television show -- leading Animal Planet to record performances in ratings. It was a tribe ready for a leader, and now they have one.
The episode I watched drove this home because it was a behind-the-scenes look that showed what goes on at the town-hall meetings prior to filming. The Squatchers posed for autographs, photos and simply spent time visiting with those that had come out to share their personal stories.
Then, it followed the Squatchers as they visited Comic-Con in New York City where again they were greeted with autograph-seekers and posed for photos with fans of the show.
The executive producers understood early on, it is not about finding the creature, it is about building the tribe. And, they do this effectively -- in person, online, etc.
The question for us is "Are we spending our time, money and energy trying to create a tribe or find one to lead?" A tribe in existence, waiting for someone to lead them might be the more effective path to success.