52 Fridays – #41 This Book Says Cults Can Provide The Secret To Understanding Horsebiz Customers

52 Fridays is a year-long series for equestrian professionals and equine business owners and managers, with marketing and public relations information, ideas, tips, & resources shared here each Friday. New EMAIL blog subscribers receive a ’52 Fridays’ PDF when they sign up; existing subscribers and new RSS FEED & WORDPRESS subscribers can send a request for their own PDF here.

We’re now in the Potpourri section of 52 Fridays, and last week the topic was about a book that demonstrates how to leverage word of mouth and structure your horsebiz to create ‘customer evangelists’ who then become a volunteer salesforce and enlist friends, families, and even strangers as prospective customers. This week is a wonderful book that I view almost as a companion, because it helps in understanding the ‘why’ of the process.

Subtitled ‘When Customers Become True Believers,’ the book The Culting of Brands by Douglas Atkin is a great resource in understanding why people flock to one brand over another, exploring that connection by looking at the loyalty followers have for cults.

Now, the general stereotype of cult followers is that they’ve been somehow psychologically damaged by life, but in his research Atkin instead found that rather than being outsiders and outlaws, cult members were ‘intelligent, educated, and socially adept.’ It makes sense, because after all in order to grow, a cult (and its members) must be appealing to new members.

Atkin goes on to say that not only do cults provide meaning and community for their members, but that every great religion and social movement started with bands of devoted followers that were somehow chastised for being ‘different.’ Cults allowed them the opportunity to be ‘more’ of themselves while at the same time feeling important and part of a group, feeling somehow more special.

That certainly describes people who are attracted to horses in North America and Europe today, since they’re not a necessity of life. The majority of the industrial world no longer rides or uses horses for farming or transport of any kind. However, since horses impart beauty, grace, strength, wisdom, and power to their riders and handlers, they can be powerfully attractive for recreational activities and athletic sports, eventually becoming a way of life for those who choose it. Reading this book can help you understand why people choose something they’re attracted to.

I bought this book when it came out in 2004, immediately after I heard Atkin speak at a marketing event in Chicago. The concepts he explained made so much sense to me then, and I think they’re still relevant today, even though Amazon.com currently has the book on bargain pricing. When you take a look at a ‘cult brand’ like Apple, and see not only the exponential growth of the brand but also the outpouring of sadness following Steve Jobs’ recent passing, how can you say that these concepts aren’t important for growing your own equestrian business and the horse industry as a whole into a cultural force?

I believe that the equine industry can learn a lot from this book, and that by welcoming interested fans and horse lovers into the Cult of the Horse and allowing them to express that inner passion, we can continue to successfully grow the equestrian lifestyle and the world of horses.

What do you think about the idea of looking at cults as a way to understand customers? Does it seem valid, or do you think it’s sheer craziness? The ‘Share’ button below lets you easily tell others about this post via Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, LinkedIn, and even by email, or you can leave a Comment below. Pssst, pass it along, and see you here next Friday for 52 Fridays #42!

Read other posts by clicking on the Sort Posts By Topic dropdown menu to the right and selecting a category, or you can select 52 Fridays to read posts #1 through #40.


This article and the site contents are copyright Lisa Kemp and Kemp Equine, all rights reserved. Brands and trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners. Content may be linked to from your site or social media, but not copied, in whole or in part, without prior permission. It’s also good karma, and good ethics, to give source credit. Thanks.

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