Six inspiring new ideas on community-based marketing

Mark Schaefer
5 min readMay 22

Have you ever bought a new car and then become hyper-aware of other cars on the road like yours? That’s the way it’s been for me about community-based marketing since I published Belonging to the Brand a few months ago.

New ideas about community seem to be popping for me everywhere, and I thought I would share a few post-book observations with you today!

1. Kinship economy

Last year, my friend Fabio Tambosi gave a presentation at my Uprising marketing retreat about what he called “The Kinship Economy.”

What he meant by this was that brands are no longer lighting big messaging “bonfires.” They’re connecting to people in meaningful cultural moments and sparking opportunities for collaboration and co-creation.

It occurs to me that community aligns with that trend very well. Instead of one-offs where you connect with customers in a long-lasting and meaningful way, brands are seeking to bring customers into the fold through community.

2. Transcending the product

I’ve been doing many interviews in support of my new book. One podcast interviewer suggested that the emotional bond in community can transcend a company’s actual product and services.

At first, I had to think about that. Why would we want to transcend our valuable product or service offering? But indeed, that is EXACTLY what we want to do in brand marketing! The emotion attached to Coca-Cola, for example, transcends carbonated sugar water. The emotion of Nike transcends a cloth and rubber shoe.

Similarly, the deep emotional connections in a brand community transcend the product … as it should.

3. A new angle for marketing leadership

Another observation about community-based marketing … leadership and strategy are much different when it comes to community, beginning with purpose versus value proposition.

In marketing, we are taught to create a unique selling proposition or point of differentiation. And, of course, we still need to do that. For example, our business might have the biggest selection of deli meats or the most responsive service. But…

Mark Schaefer

Keynote speaker, marketing strategy consultant, Rutgers U faculty and author of 10 books including KNOWN, Marketing Rebellion, and Belonging to the Brand!