How We Can Leverage Platforms For Growth

How We Can Leverage Platforms For Growth
Welcome back to another episode in our passion marketing series. In our previous episodes, we’ve talked about identifying our ideal customers, finding our love group, finding our customers’ passion statements, the five whys exercise, and interviews. Today, we’re going to talk about what we do once we have those passion statements, starting with passion platforms. 

Key Takeaways

Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:

  1. When we can connect to our customers’ level 10 passions, we will deepen connections and build trust. 
  2. Our ideal customers do not care about our brands.
  3. We should build platforms on land we own. 
  4. We can take our leased land platforms, build them, and then constantly try to pull people off of those leased land platforms onto platforms we own. 
  5. Passion platforms involve taking a passion statement and using that, or something similar, as the name of our marketing platforms, instead of simply using our brand name.  

Our Ideal Customer_Blog

Connecting to Our Customers’ Level 10 Passions

I have a younger daughter who loves to dance. Dancing is one of her level 10 passions. She spends about 10 hours a week in dance classes and has to attend competitions in different locations. Since she doesn’t have a driver’s license yet, I have to spend a lot of time driving her around. However, I don’t mind it. I look at it as a chance to associate my brand as a dad with my daughter’s level 10 passion, which is dance. 

Driving my daughter to dance classes gives me the opportunity to support her in her level 10 passion. I’m not just driving her somewhere; I am facilitating her level 10 passion. These moments give me a chance to spend time with her and build a deep and strong connection with my daughter.  

The vice president of Dessert Digital Media taught me that the most important thing we can do as parents is to help our kids find their highest level passion, and then do everything we can to support them in that. This builds long, lasting relationships with our children and helps them achieve their potential and find joy in life.  

A lot of times parents get stuck in challenges with kids not being obedient or with communication problems. This can put strain on our parent-child relationships. However, when we focus on supporting our kids’ passions, our relationship with our child will deepen and the surface level problems we might be dealing with right now will seem like nothing. 

The same concept applies in business. When we can connect to our customers’ level 10 passions, we will deepen connections and build trust. 

The Hard Truth: Customers Don’t Care About Your Brand

In our marketing and on the platforms we use, we have to remember to center everything around our customers’ passions, not our brand. The reality is our ideal customers do not care about our brands. There are very few exceptions to that statement. When we focus on brand based marketing, it’s like marketing through a brick wall. It’s very hard because we’re trying to market something people don’t care about. 

When I was at Deseret Digital Media, I was meeting with some of the top executives and I had them rate how passionate they were about one of their primary brands on a scale of zero to 10. These are the top executives and the people who you’d think would be the most passionate about the brand. I asked them, “If you didn’t work for this company, how passionate would you be about this brand?” Their average score was two and a half. 

The reality is, if we try to market anything through a level two and a half passion, people aren’t going to buy from us. There are so many other things they have to do in their life, good things they have to choose from. They’re not going to choose a level two and a half passion to spend their time on. It’s going to take so much more to get people to follow us. 

If we’re only promoting our brand, our customers aren’t going to be very engaged. They’re probably not going to stay with us. They’re going to unfollow us and they’re not going to share the content. It’s just not an effective way to do business. Don’t do brand based marketing. It doesn’t work or if it does work, it is very expensive and not very effective. So, I want to teach you a better way to do it, and that’s where these passion platforms come in.

Platforms We Don’t Own

A platform is something that gives you a voice. It’s a place of exchange between consumers and producers. There are marketplace platforms like eBay, on-demand services like Netflix, and social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Passion platforms involve taking a passion statement and using that, or something similar, as the name of a marketing platform. 

When we create platforms, we have to be conscious of the platforms we own, and those we don’t. We don’t own social channels such as Facebook or Instagram, but we can own platforms such as blogs, newsletter, websites, etc. While it is important to leverage platforms we don’t own, we have to be cautious with using them. 

The problem with building a community on a platform we don’t own, is that the platform can change the rules at any time and we can’t do anything about it. They can remove your account or change the rules. We saw this happen with Donald Trump when he was banned from certain social channels, and there are many other instances in which this happens. 

There’s a Facebook app called We’re Related that was created by a company called Family link. We grew to be the fourth largest Facebook app install. I consulted for this company as their Chief Revenue Officer part time and we added $5 million of revenue in the first eight months I was there. We also grew to 90 million app installs. 

Facebook noticed the success of our app, said thanks for proving what our users want, and then built a lot of our core functionality into the Facebook app platform itself. Then they removed our app from people’s profile pages and made it very hard for us to contact our people. They de-platformed. We essentially lost a business that had made $5 million dollars in revenue the year before. 

The lesson here is, be careful when building your platform on land you don’t own. It’s okay to use the platforms of other people (Facebook, Instagram, etc) to build and grow our business, but the main goal needs to be to pull the people from those platforms onto platforms we own. We can do this by directing them to our website or getting their email so we can contact them whenever we want. This puts us back in control. 

Platforms We Own

Here are some platforms you can own:

  • A membership site
  • A community
  • Blogs
  • Websites
  • Newsletters 
  • Software or app
  • Recurring revenue product 
  • Podcast

Pick something where you own the URL, where the customer has registered with you. You should own the contact information of your customers so you can have a relationship with that customer directly. Think of Facebook. You don’t have any of those things. You don’t own the URL. You don’t own the contact information. The customers haven’t registered with you. You don’t have permission to contact them whenever you want. All of those elements are missing. 

Now, notice there’s one thing I didn’t include on that list for it to be your platform. You don’t have to own the technology. For example, a lot of people might build a blog with WordPress, and then people might register for their blog to get updates. I consider that a platform. If it’s at your URL, they’ve registered with you, you have the contact information, you have permission to mark with them, and you have the relationship, all those things are satisfied, even though you’re using the WordPress technology.

If WordPress changed the rules and they started saying that your type of site couldn’t run with them, you could pick up the content, you could pick up the members, you could pick up those email addresses and contact information and take that domain name and move it to a different technology. You would still own it. You are the master of your destiny. Whereas with Facebook, if all of those people registered with you, and Facebook chooses to close your platform, you’re done. You can’t pick up those members and move somewhere else. 

Take your leased land platforms, build them, but constantly be trying to pull people off of those leased land platforms onto platforms that you own. 

Naming Your Passion Platform 

When you create passion platforms, I suggest that you give them an unconventional name. I am suggesting that you don’t name them with your brand name. I am suggesting that you find your customers’ passions and you come up with a name for the platform that evokes that passion. It’s the same thing as being a dad and connecting with my daughter’s dance passion. You find the passion of your customer and that becomes the brand of your passion channel. 

Let me give you some examples of that. At Family Link, their people cared about families. Instead of using Family Link as the name of their Facebook page, they named their page “I love my family.” Because they did this, they grew to more than 10 million members.

People are so much more likely to join a Facebook page and participate in a community and share content when it evokes a level 10 passion such as “I love my family”. I encourage you to create a Facebook page or an Instagram account or whatever passion platform you create and instead of calling it our brand’s name, name it with a passion statement.

After Family Link, I went and worked with the founder of JetBlue airlines. One of the digital marketing strategies we worked on was with Facebook. Facebook had launched in Brazil, probably two months before I started working with them. It wasn’t a big social network yet, but I recognized the tectonic shift and we decided to focus our digital efforts with them. 

We created 100 Facebook pages all focused around our customers’ passions. After some tests, we found three that did really well, where our cost per user was really low and the engagement was really high. One was named, “I love Brazil,” and another was named, “I love to travel.”

We turned off 97 Facebook pages and focused on the three. This is an important part of this process. You need to test a whole bunch of different things with your focus groups in your surveys and put it out there to the users and see what happens. Then you can find the ones that do the best and  double down on them. 

Another example of this is with I had left adoption com for a series of years and then in 2013, I came back and I stepped back into the CEO role. While I was gone, they focused on trying to grow brand based social channels and we had very, very few followers for being the largest adoption site. So what did I do? We went and found the level 10 passions of our target audience and used one of those statements for our channel. We branded a whole bunch of pages across the different channels with the name, “I love adoption, brought to you by” We grew this Facebook page by hundreds of thousands of people when we did this. 

The concept works. So many more people are going to be passionate about joining a Facebook page that says “I love adoption,” instead of a Facebook page that says “” It is so tempting to want to call our Facebook pages and our social channels our brand name, but don’t do it. It’s the sirens trap. Don’t do it. You are going to be so much more successful if you can find the level 10 passion of your target audience and make that the name of your passion channels.

For example, in my small town, Rexburg, there is a Facebook page called, “I love life in Rexburg.” Two thirds of the residents in our town follow that one Facebook page. As another example, I love gardening and so I choose to be a part of a Facebook group called, “I love gardens.”

Now, there are some exceptions to this. If you really need to have a social community about your brand, where it talks about your brand, I can see that working. HubSpot is a great example. They have focused on inbound marketing. I would recommend for them to have a Facebook page called ‘Inbound Marketing brought to you by HubSpot,” as the primary channel. But, if they wanted a channel that focused on how to use HubSpot and new features in HubSpot, then I could create a channel about HubSpot with the HubSpot brand name.

If you haven’t yet, create passion platforms on leased land like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube based around your customers’ passions. Then, do everything you can to use lead magnets and other incentives to pull people from those leased land platforms onto platforms you own, such as your own email list, blog, membership site, etc. 

Thank you so much for joining us today. If you enjoyed this episode, I encourage you to tune into next week’s livestream on Wednesday at 12 p.m. MST about creating passion marketing messages. 

Next Steps

  1. Get a free ebook about passion marketing, and learn how to become a top priority of your ideal customers at
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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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