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Cults are not for everyone. Especially ours.
How brands can use scarcity and exclusivity to win.

Cults are not for everyone. Perhaps the strength of a true cult lies in that very fact.

For instance, I am not in the Starbucks cult. In fact, nothing gives me more pleasure than walking in there and ordering a “small coffee” and then standing in the wrong place to pick it up. They go through the four stages of Starbucks: condescension, anger, denial and pretending I don’t exist in their universe. Which, to be fair, I really don’t.

In my book, they make Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi look like Willie Wonka. But Starbucks’ strength lies in their cult—those who’ve drunk their iced-Venti-half-caf-soy-vanilla-latte-with-whip-and-caramel-drizzle KoolAid. And will continue to do so till their dying days. The correct jargon and positioning to receive the coffee is very much a part of what makes this cult so special to millions of people.

Cult brands flourish on not being for everyone. Look at Apple, who exhorted followers to think different.

I just don’t happen to be one of them. So sue me… it helps me make a salient point about exclusivity and elitism. Cult brands flourish on NOT being for everyone. Look at Apple, who exhorted followers to think different, or even some of our own clients like Harley-Davidson or Big Rock or Michaels… Not everyone wants to do arts and crafts. But those who are passionate about it can find an intense sense of belonging and self validation in the act of belonging to the cult of Michaels.

In his book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On, author Jonah Berger describes how brands use scarcity and exclusivity to make customers feel like insiders. In his words, “Scarcity and exclusivity help products catch on by making them seem more desirable. If something is difficult to obtain, people assume that it must be worth the effort.”

So it goes with most great brands. And especially the cult of Cult.

I’m not claiming we’re a great brand (yet) but the same logic applies. We’re definitely not for every client. And we’re super okay with that. We’re for those who understand the nature of the beast. Those who know they’re not going to get to cult status with more of the same advertising, web banners and Facebook updates. Those who know that trying to be everything to everyone may get them some more people who buy. But that trying to be everything to those who are predisposed to religiously follow them will get them people who buy IN.

Further Reading
The CULT of Customer Experience
FIX: A new prescription to cure disengaged customers, prospects or staff
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