Customer Equity Accelerator Podcast

Ep. 103 | Customer Tribes with Tim Ash


"Have a point of view, a voice, an editorial stance. Authenticity is a huge advantage." - Tim Ash


This week Tim Ash joins Allison Hartsoe in the Accelerator. Tim is a keynote speaker, trainer and CMO advisor on the topics of conversion rate optimization, neuromarketing, and behavioral economics. Tim explains why neuroscience is really behind customer choices and why connecting with your customer tribes is a smarter way to communicate.

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Show Transcript

Allison Hartsoe: 00:01 This is the Customer Equity Accelerator. If you are a marketing executive who wants to deliver bottom-line impact by identifying and connecting with revenue-generating customers, then this is the show for you. I'm your host, Allison Hartsoe, CEO of Ambition Data. Each week I bring you the leaders behind the customer-centric revolution who share their expert advice. Are you ready to accelerate? Then let's go! Welcome everybody. Today's show is about customer tribes, attracting them, talking to them and convincing them to buy from you. To help me discuss this topic is Tim Ash. Tim is a keynote speaker, trainer and CMO advisor on the topics of conversion rate optimization, neuromarketing, behavioral economics, and online business acceleration who has also run a very powerful conference series that I have been privileged to be part of and authored over 200 articles, written two books. Tim knows his stuff. Tim, welcome to the show.

Tim Ash: 01:08 Well, thanks Allison. I'm very happy to be here.

Allison Hartsoe: 01:10 Now I remember your original book landing page optimizations, and I think you said next year you've got unleashing the primal brain due to come out, which sounds fascinating.

Tim Ash: 01:19 Yes, the new book. So I wrote two books on landing page optimization. There's a second edition, and it's been really well received as a kind of like a marketing textbook at a college level for people that want to optimize websites and online experiences. And the new book's a little broader than that. It's called unleash the primal brain, demystifying how we think and why we act. And it's about evolutionary psychology, how our brains evolved and the subconscious decision making that is really the only decision making. We're not rational creatures. We're basically a big evolutionary collection of various shortcuts and survival strategies.

Allison Hartsoe: 01:56 And I think that's one of the things that's so unique about your background. And I remember when you would talk about landing page optimizations, you would take it from a very scientific approach. And I haven't heard too many people use the phrase neuromarketing. So can you tell us a little bit more about your background and maybe a little bit about what neuromarketing really is?

Tim Ash: 02:14 Sure. Well, if I go way back, I came out to the University of California, San Diego, and I double majored in computer engineering and cognitive science. So it was the perfect combination of software and wetware and how the brain works. I stayed on at UC San Diego for my Ph.D. studies for seven years. Didn't ever quite finish, but that was also kind of a mix of computers and learning in the sense that it was about artificial intelligence. That's what my graduate work was in adaptive systems, what was called neural networks at the time, and is now called artificial intelligence more commonly. But basically, how do computers learn from examples and not from being told what to do. So I've always had this, I guess, interest in the way the brain works and how people decide why we act and a career. Internet marketing has certainly done nothing to damp in that.

Allison Hartsoe: 03:03 For sure. As you know, we spend a lot of time looking at data, particularly around customer lifetime value and customer quality. And yet I find that there's almost like an addiction in the industry to be the loudest and sometimes the most obnoxious marketing voice in the room, black Friday's coming up now as one of the things that is obviously part of this whole buy, buy, buy now, now, now. So is that a question of customer quality? Is that should marketers just be trying to outshout each other? What is the best way to get marketers to think more about perhaps the human side of marketing?

Tim Ash: 03:40 Think of it from your own perspective, what do you want is to squeeze the bottom of the sales funnel and hope money comes out. They even have a name for that. It's a disease most marketers suffer from, and I'm a recovering for myself, but I call it greedy marketers syndrome, right? And we always think about what's in it for us. And the problem is we're not thinking from the customer perspective, and they're thinking what's in it for them. And so we're thinking bottom of the funnel. But if you really want to be useful to people, you have to kind of map all of your marketing activities to the whole customer journey from a very early stage. They don't even know they have a problem to maybe comparing alternatives, zeroing in on a set of solutions to their problem, and then kind of the mechanics of acting or fixing their problem, which is where most of us live. We think direct responses, again, that bottom of the funnel stuff, but really the game is one for a smart marketer by understanding the whole customer journey.

Allison Hartsoe: 04:31 So you understand the whole customer journey, but then there are all these marketers who are trying to say, Hey, next best action. I'm going to put this other carrot in front of you and put this other carrot in front of you. Does that really work?

Tim Ash: 04:42 Well, you have to remember if you're advertising or if you're in a competitive situation, then yes, there is a certain logic to screaming the loudest because that's what's going to get noticed. But once people end up on your website or talking to you or on your landing page, or you have email communication with them, there's no need to shout anymore. It's kind of like competing with yourself. You're in a bizarre, it's like, Hey, do you want to buy this carpet? Do you want these spices? Do you want to buy my sister? I don't know, whatever it, I was like, everybody's screaming to get attention and they're each competing with themselves. You should never do that on your own website or in your own experiences. Instead, it should be some kind of against, you could say zen-like stillness out of which you're at calls to action naturally emerge, and that's the standard I would use. So if you can't describe your landing page as having a quality of Zen-like stillness, chances are you're competing with yourself by having multiple calls to action of background graphics or visual distractions of various sorts. And that's just really killing yourself. There's no reason for it.

Allison Hartsoe: 05:41 So, and I think that gets into the neuroscience behind a tribe a bit. And maybe tell us a little bit more when we use the word tribe, I'm not sure that that's a hundred percent clear to everyone. I mean, think everybody understands the basics of it, but how do consumers operate as a tribe, or how should marketers think tribes?

Tim Ash: 05:58 What I would think of that is how is it an identity form for a person? And I would submit that we're essentially kind of an overlay of different tribal affiliations. For example, I'm the Mercedes driving tribe. Okay. I drive a Mercedes, okay. Where I'm the Southern California tribe as opposed to the new England tribe. Football teams are obvious things. We root for a certain team and so on. Whether we're a sports fan at all is another tribe, there are sports fan tribes versus people that don't really care about sports. So our identity is situational. And in any given context, that depends on whether we're being activated by an affinity for being part of a group. And some of these are voluntary, just want to be super clear and some are not. For example, if you're an orphan, you probably didn't choose to be one, right? If you're born with certain skin color or born in a certain country, those are not voluntary choices, and yet they form these overlays of identity that I'm talking about.

Tim Ash: 06:50 So from a marketer's standpoint, the importance of a tribe is being super clear about who you're trying to attract and what's important to them so that there's a very strong tribal affinity. Some of the best brands have been shown in functional FMRI scans to essentially activate the same parts of the brain as religious devotion. So have you talked to an Apple person, there's no way you can get them to switch from that iPhone, even though it's technically, I would say inferior to my Samsung galaxy, but it's a religious belief, and I'm not going to get into religious wars with Apple iPhone users.

Allison Hartsoe: 07:21 So there's a very strong emotional hook, which I think is a little different than what most marketers do, which is, it's this age group that I am after and they live in these geo-locations. And so it's very demographically driven. Is the definition of a tribe automatically include behavior?

Tim Ash: 07:39 Yeah, well, it includes a certain set of values that drive behavior. So if the way I signal values, I'm going to put on a suit and a tie and be overdressed in a setting. And as a keynote speaker, I've kind of toned it down to where I wear a blazer and then the colorful shirt underneath and jeans on the bottom right. Okay. Because one of my millennial employees once told me about standing at our trade show booth and wearing a suit drives millennials away. So yeah, but on the other hand, I know keynote speakers, I'll come out and ripped jeans and have multiple visible tattoos and swear on stage. And that's their thing. And that's their way of being authentic. I'm not saying one is either right or wrong. I'm saying that you're going to have a reaction to the underlying values. So if my values to be super casual on stage and I don't care what you think, that's very different to where I'm going to fit into the corporate mobile than wear a suit, and I very much care what you think and following social norms in that setting. It's more like the values drive the behavior, and you need to understand the values of your tribe and be super clear about that.

Allison Hartsoe: 08:42 I one's heard a story about Google losing a very large sale they were trying to sell. I think it was like the server systems and the whole business suite to a large company in Germany, and they came in in jeans and a blazer or jeans and a t-shirt kind of Silicon Valley. Yeah,

Tim Ash: 08:57 Silicon Valley business casual.

Allison Hartsoe: 08:59 Exactly! It is looking exactly like Silicon Valley and thought nothing of it, and they lost the deal because the people on the other side of the table couldn't see them seriously and would not accept that value from them and automatically thought, well there must be no value in the product as well. Let's talk a little more about values. If I think about what was that show? I think it was called lie to me, and they have like certain facial expressions. There are certainly limited at, what is it, seven different facial expressions. Are there a certain number of values that are the master values? And then everything else cascades from that.

Tim Ash: 09:31 Well, you're talking about emotions and values. Those are two different things because there are facial expressions can be coded and have been coded by anthropologists. That to. There are only five basic emotions or something like that. Someone's gonna tell me it's six. But regardless, those are universal, sadness, surprise fear, anxiety, things like that are wired into us. So those are emotions. Values are more like, I think of him as a hierarchy for decision making. If most people, for example, when they go to Disney land, if I say, what's the value of a Disney theme park? What are their employee's value first? Most people would say, well, it's the happiest place on earth and making sure that guests are happy and that sort of thing. And that would be wrong. Actually, Disney's number one value for their employees is guest's safety. Okay. Because if it's clean up that spill or make sure that kind of bar on the roller coaster is tight and clicks into place versus have a good time, it's really clear how they're going to act. So values serve as a kind of a hierarchy for decision making, and guest safety overrules everything else, period. End of the story. So what are the values of your tribe? That's what you should be thinking and understanding them. Again, going back to that is really the key to making any business grow.

Allison Hartsoe: 10:39 And that's interesting because having taken my own family to Disney, I don't even think about guest's safety, but it's already layered in. In other words, I've gotten past that gate to be happy at that environment because I have to be safe in order to be happy or feel like my family will be happy there. So I can see why that's number one.

Tim Ash: 10:57 Yeah. And it's not necessarily something you're, you know, the point is, so that's a tribe of Disney employees and that the values they're trying to instill in them, it's not necessarily the values of the guests. I'm just saying. So this is for their employees. They're super clear that guest safety is number one.

Allison Hartsoe: 11:11 Yeah. Okay. So what would be some examples of companies where they've kind of figured out their values? Either they've gotten it right, or they've gotten it wrong?

Tim Ash: 11:19 Well, instead of using a specific example, I'd like to talk about this continuum of like what brands and companies do. And on the one hand, you have like the giant conglomerate, right? It's we're everything to everybody, which means we're nothing to anybody. So a brand has kind of a breaking point, and through product line extension and other things, we can kill the brand because it becomes meaningless. And so you'll find that the most successful companies are the ones that have the tightest focus on their tribe and they basically in a world, or like we were talking about, no one can stop screaming at you in advertising you want almost like the of that a pull and attractor were like, Whoa, where have these people been all my life? This is perfect. This is exactly what I've been looking for. I mean, think of how often you have that kind of brand experience.

Tim Ash: 12:03 It's very seldom, but when it does, you go, Whoa, there's something here, I'm going to track this down. And so it's actually an attractor and a magnet instead of being a Bullhorn and a megaphone. And so it's smaller brands are ones that are more tightly focused on their tribe. I think having an advantage because of that loyalty and because people will seek them out by word of mouth and any number of things. So you hear about all this like social media and influencer marketing. Well, that's deployed to make you aware of the brand or the product. But unless that by itself has this kind of magnetic pole, no amount of influence or marketing is going to help you if you're not clear about what the pole is or why it exists.

Allison Hartsoe: 12:41 Yeah, that makes sense. And so I like this idea of activating the tribe and using your brand or maybe your website as a place where people could come to connect or come to be part of the tribe. Is that kind of an underused concept or something that marketers aren't really thinking about because they're thinking so much about acquisition. Maybe they should be thinking more about how to give the tribe a voice on their site.

Tim Ash: 13:06 Absolutely. Well, there's a couple of things I want to come in. It's like whether on their sites and important or not, and also how to do that. So one of the things that you have to have that I think most companies fall down on is they're too safe. Some of them are publicly traded. They have certain constraints in order to live in very politically correct and touchy times in a certain sense too. But when you get on websites is a lot of marketing happy, happy talk. We are the world's leading solution for, you know, that kind of stuff. What is what no human being would ever say for 1000 Alex. But it's that kind of thing. People don't talk like that. It's marketing speak is what I call it. It's a specialized language when you buy as marketers. So when you want is to have a point of view, to have a voice, to have an editorial stance to stand for something.

Tim Ash: 13:49 Otherwise, you're just one of those nameless, faceless, and Ray companies out there. And that's the norm. So one huge advantage is a point of view and voice, and that's got to come through all of your communications from your email signatures to your website to all the content you put out. And it doesn't have to be so professional. I mean, a lot of the success in connection is authenticity. So it's not about whether you're shooting all your video in four K with you know that or that sort of thing. It's not about some high-end ad campaigns. It's about are you being real and deep and does that resonate for me,

Allison Hartsoe: 14:22 I saw this on a traditional brand recently. It was nature's bakery, I don't know their old site, but their new site had very playful, like little colorful icons and very friendly point of view. And as a result, they would position things such as if you wanted to buy a combination of products. It was a big fig and deal, which was the basis of the product is the eggs and flavor in these little bars. And so it was very friendly. And then it also came through in the communications, and I thought they were doing a really good job of having that authenticity. Now it was a recent rebrand. So do you see more companies doing this or kind of getting the memo, or are they getting pushed to spread out and diluting which way are we going?

Tim Ash: 15:04 Well, they're always like fun, and they're usually like consumer brands that you could just like, I would love to be the PR marketing person for these. Like you know, we probably work at my former agency site tuners with the company that was in Uranus, Missouri, and they had general store in fudge, and their tagline was the best fudge comes from your Uranus. You know, I mean you could have all kinds of fun with a brand like that, but I'm sure you'll remember it and someone will go look that up. And I start with listening to this podcast. But even for more traditional companies, you can make manufacturing and distribution more exciting. Nothing's preventing you from actually like having some fun. And it's not about jokey, jokey necessarily, but being yourself, being conversational, not being so staid and being approachable. It's that same thing like when I was on stage and wearing a suit and tie that was a repellent for some people that you can find a happy medium that and draws them in. So they're listening to the message and not the messenger

Allison Hartsoe: 15:57 I want to circle back to one thing as well, which I'm not sure where you quite made the point on, but the idea of connecting with the tribe's values is so powerful. It's almost like you're tapping into like an automatic sailmaker or like a religious feeling. Can you talk more about like the psychology that binds a tribe?

Tim Ash: 16:15 Yeah, I think that when we think about this, one of the key ingredients is what I call the origin myth. Every company, at some point, I have an origin myth, even kind of boring Silicon Valley companies, like Hewlett Packard, was the first Silicon Valley company. It was literally started in Hewlett and Packard garage. Right? So that's an origin myth is we wanted to have this breakthrough. We transitioned to created the transistor where like the mad scientists from back to the future and we started in the garage. We're not these faceless, nameless automatons like IBM or something like that. So this even plays in larger context and in an even bigger companies that they have this origin story somewhere in their company, but they've buried it. They no longer talk about it. And for smaller companies, if you're going to break through the clutter, I'd say the best approach is to use what's known in literature and for thousands of years as the hero's journey, right?

Tim Ash: 17:06 You start to dissent from your normal world into this unknown world. Then you face obstacles, and you find some allies along the way, and you slay dragons, and then there's the return and the reintegration of that into normal life. So, for example, I had a friend who started a women's yoga clothing company, Kara grace here in San Diego and she used to work at, I believe Nike or large apparel and shoe company in their closed division. And it was like all the managers over 30 men and what do men know about designing women's yoga clothes? Right? And so she's like, this isn't working for me. I need to have something that women actually like for all these subtle reasons. And so I'm going to punch out of that corporate environment, create my own stuff and bring it directly to women. And that's a very powerful origin myth for example.

Tim Ash: 17:50 And again, if you make your website look like it's just a bunch of different clothes here by these yoga pants, by this halter top, then you look like any other generic company. And even if they're better, but nobody knows that origin myth and connects to it, or you're operating with both hands tied behind your back because you won't be the cheapest, you won't be the highest volume. So what have you got besides to compete with Amazon?

Allison Hartsoe: 18:10 If you don't have a hero's journey? And I'm thinking particularly of a pizza company that we worked with at one point this year and the founder was so long gone and the story was so buried that they were basically playing a price game. Can you create a sort of a hero's journey through charity or through cause marketing or some other Avenue if you don't have a hero to latch on to?

Tim Ash: 18:34 Well, it doesn't have to be the origin myth. That's the founder story, right? But you can have a set of values. What you care about that's maybe transmitted from the founders and still is operating, right? It doesn't have to be tied to the person. But what's important about their pizza? I don't know again, I mean there's lots of positioning points. If it's good value, we won't rip you off. That's our value is we want to be fair. Our whole thing is about fairness and approach to what we pay our employees fairly. We don't overcharge for our pizza. We don't try to raise the prices when cheese gets more expensive. So your fair pizza is your thing. That's great. Or organics and other way to go. Domino's built their whole business on speed and reliability, right? So if that's what you care about is I want this pizza here in a half-hour, you know which one you're going to call Domino's, right?

Tim Ash: 19:18 So their values speed, well it's kind of a feature, but it's also their value is crust. That integrity is underlying it, that you will get what we promised in this timeframe. That's a word of honor thing. So let's say that's their underlying value behind that half-hour guarantee if you see what I mean.

Allison Hartsoe: 19:33 I do. And I'm also seeing that value specifically stretch across the board. They're not just for marketing, it's the product. And like your example with the cheese, the prices go up, but we stay fair and also into the team and the way that that's projected into the company. Okay, so that makes a lot of sense. And so you tap into these values, you tap into the tribes. Is there a way that a company knows they have resonated with the right tribe?

Tim Ash: 19:58 Yes. So, well, let's talk about how to identify your tribe first because what does it mean tribe. So again, there's this balance. If you stretch your pride too broadly, it loses focus. For example, I've had lots of SAS software companies we've worked with over the years, and they basically say, well, our accounting software can be used for restaurants and bars and construction companies and dentists offices. And it's QuickBooks for example. Right? But as a dentist, I don't want to be that generic. So unless you're saying this accounting software is great for running a dental practice and here's a bunch of other dentists that we work with and here's why they love us and here's testimonials. If you just kind of treat it as a generic thing cause you want a bigger market share, that's not going to work. So a lot of companies don't invest enough in the individual markets or individual segments or individual tribes. You have to resonate for each of them to activate them. And unless you resonate, you won't activate them. And then you're just generic. So you could say, yeah, our addressable market is a hundred times bigger than this little niche, but you have to invest in the important niches in order to activate.

Allison Hartsoe: 20:59 Does that mean your values could change between those niches?

Tim Ash: 21:02 No, your values shouldn't. But I think that again, going to just clothing, if I don't recognize in you, someone like me in first impressions, then I'm not going to buy from you. It's that simple. So you're giving me the corporate vibe and I'm a cafe. I don't feel welcome with your accounting software review say but, and that goes back to something earlier you said that I want to pick up on, which is like how should you do this on your website? Well, a lot of this stuff is done off your website. You go to the communities where cafe owners already congregate and talk about their problems. And then accounting solution might be just a small part of that, but go to where their center of gravity is and it's probably not on your site. So, of course, participate in a listening manner and social media. But also there are established forums and websites and communities for all kinds of tribes out there already. So why you reinvent the wheel?

Allison Hartsoe: 21:50 Yeah, I see this a lot in non-conversion sites like in the pharma space where the doctors don't just hang out on pharmaceutical sites.

Tim Ash: 21:59 No, they never do.

Allison Hartsoe: 22:01 They don't, but they're very active online still, but in other places. So I think that underlines your point really well.

Tim Ash: 22:06 Yeah. And then that's why learning about them by observing them where they congregate is one thing you can do. Another thing that's very important to understand your tribe is actually go into the field. Most of us are in our cubicles or open layout and talking to other people in the marketing department, hey, what's the campaign performance this week? How much are we spending? What are our KPIs? But that is like when was the last time you actually went out in the field and visited a customer? Right. To see what their real life is like. And so I'm a big fan of actually going out and doing primary research and just observational. It's not to ask them survey questions. It's just to say, here's our product or service here. I just want to shadow you for a couple of hours and see how you use it. And that's the most powerful kind of research I would say.

Allison Hartsoe: 22:52 That's a really good point because, in a sense, when you ask a bunch of questions, you're introducing bias and somebody wants to tell you what they think you want to hear, I think is a natural human response. And so by just watching them, you end up with a lot more information.

Tim Ash: 23:06 Yeah. And then the other thing is, it's not that the questions introduce bias or that they want to please, but the very fact that you're using language, that's a very recent part of our brain. The neocortex is the only part that works with language. The subconscious mind that makes all the decisions doesn't have access to language. So anytime you ask me to put it into words, I'm making up a story after the fact that decisions's already been made. Now I'm going to try to give you kind of a justification for making it, or I forget who said this one, but there's a famous quote that man is not a rational animal. Man is a rationalizing animal. In other words, anything that we say verbally is a rationalization after the fact. So if you want to see reality and see, watch what I do and don't listen to what I say.

Allison Hartsoe: 23:46 I love this movie, the big chill. And there's a scene in it where one of the actors says, you know, I don't know anyone who gets through the day without two or three good, juicy rationalizations. Excellent. So obviously I think one of the spaces where individuals are good at picking up on tribes is politics, but politics doesn't always use positive motivation. Is there a virtue in using negative motivation?

Tim Ash: 24:13 You should say that. Again, we're living in pretty polarized times right now, and uh, I'm sure we can all agree on that. That's one of the few things we can agree on these days. But the reason that the polarization works is because we're evolutionarily wired for it. So if you look at the most salacious content that spreads on social networks and conspiracy theories and just outrage and the politics of that, it's because it's activating us on a really strong emotional level. And anything that you can gin up fear and doubt and uncertainty that familiar FID acronym works really well. And this is again, I think where a lot of companies, because of their brand guidelines, that sterile 200-page book they have about what fonts you should use as next to their logo are missing the point. They don't use negative stuff. We actually worked with a large company that had a great service and it was solving a real problem, but they wouldn't talk about the problem.

Tim Ash: 25:06 They base and we came up with a marketing campaign says, look, here's life without the product. It really sucks. Rub salt into the wound. Here's all the bad things that happen if you don't have access product, here's life with the product. That's wonderful. So it was kind of like a before and after, and they didn't even want to create that contrast. I understand some companies don't want to crap all over their competitors and say explicitly bad things. They suck and we're better. But not to say life without our product or service sucks. That's a mistake because what we have to overcome as marketers is in behavioral economics terms. It's called the status quo bias. In other words, keep doing what we've been doing and we think there's no energy to devote to it. We think that if we go on the same path, it's zero energy.

Tim Ash: 25:46 It's momentum that's moving us. So any marketer has to move us off of our comfortable spot to get us to change. And there are basically two ways to do that. You can be using pain or joy, and it's been shown, depending on the context, that pain is about two times more effective. Yeah, ouch is right. If you're not using pain, if you're not saying, well, I mean, in other words, if I say, Hey, you might win the raffle if you buy this ticket and you can win a new car, versus, Hey, if I'm going to keep your hand on that hot stove and it might hurt a little bit, I know which one you're going to react to. So pain is an evolutionary survival kind of light pose that says, do this to survive and that overcomes pleasure-seeking. So if you don't use pain, you're making a big mistake. Be as explicit as you can. Like I said, rub salt into the wound. It was to envision a world where our solution didn't exist. Paint that picture of hell for me and then I will value your solution a lot more, and I'll be more likely to actually do something about my awful predicament.

Allison Hartsoe: 26:42 I love that what you said paint that picture of hell for me. So true. Are there any other examples for companies that you want to share?

Tim Ash: 26:51 In terms of the pain stuff?

Allison Hartsoe: 26:53 In terms of pain or people who are using their tribes well or not well?

Tim Ash: 26:57 Well, I think that there's a lot of lifestyle brands that are actually doing this really well. I mean, even companies as large as REI, they're basically like save the planet and save the pristine wilderness climate crisis. They're all over it, and it used to be that, again, it was assumed that companies had to stay very neutral in which you're finding now, whether it's political or social causes. A lot of companies are leaning in and stepping right in front of things, but you can't hide because then you're invisible. So you will alienate some people, but you'll strongly activate others. That same polarization we're talking about, you know, your tribe is and what's important to them. And you might actually, as a company be taking on political causes and social movements and championing those kinds of things. And we're seeing more and more of that. And that's not because they're woke companies, it's because they understand that that's what it takes to activate their audiences. So if you look at the news, you'll find more and more kind of corporate activism of various kinds, both on the conservative causes and liberal ones because they know who their audiences.

Allison Hartsoe: 27:56 Yeah. I always think of Chick-fil-A as a company that from the get-go has been very clear about their values and what they represent and the causes they support.

Tim Ash: 28:05 Yeah, absolutely.

Allison Hartsoe: 28:06 Great! So let's say I'm convinced and I really want to activate my tribe. We've talked a lot about the steps as we've been going through the show. Can we wrap it up into kind of a checklist if you know that where somebody should start and what they should do first?

Tim Ash: 28:19 Yeah. The first thing you should do is understand your own values and your origin myth. If you have one, even if you haven't put it out there publicly, number two, you should say what people or audiences or tribes this aligns with. Don't kid yourself about it at this stage. The important thing is to find the tightest fit possible. So it's just one of those, wow, where have these people been all my life moments if someone runs across you and then the next thing is to chop it off and make sure that you don't stretch that brand too far. Again, if it starts becoming generic or you could insert vertical industry here kind of thing and it still works, chances are you overstretched your brand and it's too and it won't resonate anymore. So and then come up with like you'd based on these values, both the messaging and the editorial tone and how you say things and your offer, and all of your touchpoints are then designed to only resonate for that audience. This is really important. It's fine if it's a belly flop for everybody else, they weren't tuned in and won't notice you through the clutter anyway, but for your, you try. The only ones you're trying to influence, it has to be laser-focused on them to work for them.

Allison Hartsoe: 29:25 I think this is where the hippo issue comes in. Sometimes, you know, the highest-paid person's opinion is not necessarily their representative of the tribe, although perhaps they should be, but when you have that disconnect, it's easy for them to say, Oh, I don't like that color. I don't like that messaging, but it's not about them.

Tim Ash: 29:41 No, no, it's not. And then one way to settle those bar bets is to do a test. It's like, Oh, okay, Ms. CEO, you know, we tried your purple polka dot button didn't work as well as the blue one. Would you like to bank the $17 million, or should we use your button? That's a very different conversation. That's why I like analytics and split testing. You can make some decisions based on objective data, but just a final word on analytics and quantitative data. I know that's your world. We have to realize the limitations of that. That's looking in the rearview mirror. It's only in the context of our current business, our current model, our current audience that any of those metrics are true and they're only true by yesterday. Okay? So a lot of this fundamental rethinking at a tribal level that we've been talking about is forward-focused and qualitative. So you can't be driving a hundred miles an hour and driving by looking in the rearview mirror, which is effectively all you can do with analytics with regard to these kinds of questions.

Allison Hartsoe: 30:32 Okay. You know I'm going to take issue there because .

Tim Ash: 30:36 I know that's what I thought.

Allison Hartsoe: 30:37 Because customer lifetime value is inherently validating the second item on the checklist frighting find the tightest fit possible. And when you project forward with CLV, you should see customers come in on cadence, and when you don't have a fit, then you're essentially saying, we don't have the right customer mix. They're not on cadence. They're not.

Tim Ash: 30:59 Yeah, we're actually saying the same thing. So I'm going to square the circle for you and say this that my point is that the ideas about who your tribe is and how to activate them have to come from a completely different process. All the quantitative stuff does is validate it and say you didn't make a mistake. It's working, or it's not working, so just don't kid yourself that you can drive with analytics. It's on the back end where you're validating stuff that analytics comes in.

Allison Hartsoe: 31:22 Yeah, I can agree with that. I sometimes say there are these madmen in the math men, and we both have to work together because we can only see what's in the data. We can't see what's not there.

Tim Ash: 31:31 That's right.

Allison Hartsoe: 31:32 Yeah. Well good. Well Tim, this has been an absolute pleasure. If people want to reach out to you to see about how they can find their tribes or to work with you directly, what's the best way for them to get in touch?

Tim Ash: 31:44 The best way to do it is to just go on my website, that also has all of my social information, and essentially, I have this dual career of consulting on online marketing. Whether it's the, fix your ugly baby website or to come up with an online marketing strategy, and I also do quite a bit as you know, keynote speaking around the world. So if anyone's looking for a dynamic keynote for their corporate event or conference a, again, just go to the website,

Allison Hartsoe: 32:11 I highly recommend your keynote. I would bet that you've probably done North of 250 keynotes now. I mean, it's been a lot.

Tim Ash: 32:18 Yes, it's been fun. I've gotten great reactions from folks in. It's just a wonderful way to meet people face to face.

Allison Hartsoe: 32:24 Who wouldn't want a neuro marketer to do their keynote. I mean, what a perfect spot. Okay, well, as always, links to everything, including Tim's website will be at Tim, thank you for joining me today. It's been such a pleasure.

Tim Ash: 32:38 Allison, it's been my pleasure. I wish we could have kept going. Thank you so much.

Allison Hartsoe: 32:43 Remember when you use your data effectively, you can build customer equity. It's not magic, just a very specific journey that you can follow to get results. Thank you for joining today's show. This is your host Allison Hartsoe, and I have two gifts for you. First, I've written a guide for the Customer-Centric CMO, which contains some of the best ideas from this podcast, and you can receive it right now. Simply text, ambitiondata, one word, to three, one, nine, nine, six, (31996), and after you get that white paper, you'll have the option for the second gift, which is to receive the Signal once a month. I put together a list of three to five things I've seen that represent customer equity signal, not noise. And believe me, there's a lot of noise out there. Things I include could be smart tools. I've run across articles, I've shared cool statistics, or people and companies I think are making amazing progress as they build customer equity. I hope you enjoy the CMO guide and the Signal. See you next week on the Customer Equity Accelerator.

Key Concepts: Customer Lifetime Value, Marketing, Digital Data, Customer Centricity, Long-Term Customer Value, Marketing Leaders, Analytics, Creativity, Product Development, Audience Research

Who Should Listen: CAOs, CCOs, CSOs, CDOs, Digital Marketers, Business Analysts, C-suite professionals, Entrepreneurs, eCommerce, Data Scientists, Analysts, CMOs, Customer Insights Leaders, CX Analysts, Data Services Leaders, Data Insights Leaders, SVPs or VPs of Marketing or Digital Marketing, SVPs or VPs of Customer Success, Customer Advocates, Product Managers, Product Developers

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