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Timeless Truth #7: Birds of a Feather Flock Together

It’s undeniable. One of the most powerful notions in marketing is—and has always been—birds of a feather flock together.

This core idea should inform marketing acquisition, retention, win-back, brand evangelism, and social media strategies.

How can you leverage this notion? Before I address this—the seventh Timeless Truth—it might be helpful to quickly review the first six Timeless Truths. These truths have all proven effective decade after decade and can provide stability in our world of frenetic change:

1. Slow and steady wins the race.

This long-standing scientific marketing approach has now been adopted by tech entrepreneurs and renamed “continuous innovation.” Regardless of what you call it, the approach works—and it’s simple: Go to market quickly. Fail fast. Analyze rigorously. Iterate constantly.

2. Mind your Ps.

Now, more than ever, marketers must consider all four Ps of marketing, and not just fixate on “promotion” or advertising. We have long understood that the most important predictor of marketing success is the “product” itself. Second in terms of importance is to whom a product is marketed (“place” falls into this category.) Third, is the offer construct and “price.” Last is the product’s marketing communications or “promotion.”

3. Seek and you will find.

All data is not created equal. Marketers must continuously seek the data (big and small) that can drive business performance.

4. There is safety in numbers.

Today, the best performing marketing/media combinations can drive performance that is over 1000 times better than the worst. It should go without saying, but every marketer should have a well-defined, continuously deployed, testing and optimization methodology.

5. To everything there is a season.

The retailer The Gap has learned that the best time for them to post on Facebook is 9:32AM on Thursdays. Timing optimization is now an exacting science. Your objective is to find commonalities among your prospects and customers, based on their availability, receptivity, and activity. Your challenge is that the optimal time to communicate differs by channel, category, individual, and the type of behavior desired.

6. Make new friends, but don’t forget the old.

Marketing to existing customers tends to be six to seven times more profitable than prospecting. We’ve known this forever. Yet most marketers still spend a disproportionate amount of their budgets on acquisition. This over-emphasis on acquisition is arguably the biggest mistake marketers make. 

Now, here is the seventh Timeless Truth: Birds of a feather flock together. As stated, this core idea should inform marketing acquisition, retention, win-back, brand evangelism, and social media strategies. Leveraging “Birds of a feather” shortens sales cycles, improves efficiency, and helps establish brand and marketing priorities. Further, studies prove the power of friend-get-a-friend and word-of-mouth marketing. These methods usually attract more loyal, more profitable customers and yield better ROI.

Decades ago we learned the power of geo-targeting and demographic targeting, but today our ability to leverage behavioral and location-based data and consumers’ social graph dramatically enhances the power of birds of a feather. In fact, one could argue that most powerful driver of social media is the notion that birds of a feather flock together.

So here are three easy steps to leverage “birds”:

  • Identify the birds in your flock:

Examine your database and your social media communities. Look deeper for commonalities among segments of your customers and community. By better understanding and levering these insights you can become far more efficient in your prospecting efforts.

  • Search for big birds:

Identify your customers with influence, the ones who matter most from an advocacy and economic perspective. Encourage their enthusiastic support. Build lookalike models to find more like them. 

  • Develop effective birdcalls:

The notion of birds of a feather enables you to create more relevant messaging and offers. Test more personalized approaches that leverage your birds-of-a-feather insights.

Birds of a feather is another, critical Timeless Marketing Truth. Remember it. Leverage it. It will help your business fly.

Lawrence M. Kimmel is executive director of hawkeye and a frequent keynote speaker at marketing conferences around the world. Follow him @KimmelsCorner.
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