Marketers with nicely shaped glasses (and cowboy hats apparently if you are looking to put your photo up on Twitter) get all steamy when talking about movements. No, not those which you have when you wake up in the morning but those which start with a small group of people buying your product and little by little turn into a big group of people buying your product.
Spike from Brains on Fire had the question thrown at him – when does a movement start? To which he had a super little existential experience and came up with:
A movement starts with the first conversation.
If that conversation is filled with honesty, transparency, true interest and a LOT of listening, then the first seed is planted. The movement has begun in one mind and one heart. And that’s usually the beginning of something powerful, meaningful and full of potential that gets realized more every day.
I can almost hear the sounds of trees falling in forests and one hands clapping it’s so sweet. But it’s also wrong. The moment a consumer is inspired by something is the end result of a series of courageous decisions made by people to keep their heads above water whilst hoping they are onto something. The makers, the creators, the believers, the inventors, the tinkerers, the business people who somewhere along the line stuck their necks out to launch their little idea into the fray.
The client has always been right, and the client has always been king and now the fact that the client is defined by marketers as responsible for social movements doesn’t change the place where ideas are born. The first seed is not planted in a conversation. This is just the first time a couple of people (because normally it takes more than one person to converse) have noticed the tree. The first seed is when some Joe Schmoe (or Joanne Schmoanne) wakes up and thinks “Holy crap, why not personalize golf shoes?”, or “Why do socks have to be sold in pairs?”, or “Why can’t we put a motor in the wheel?”
These are the real seeds. These are the origins of a passion which is difficult to understand if you are a heavy sleeper. And this passion if it’s not killed along the way eventually filters down to marketers who can amuse themselves by blathering about who saw the fully grown tree first.