Chapter 4

Communities Are the New Markets

People live and work in communities, not markets. The challenge for any business is to simply get out into the community and make friends.

When I was earning my MBA in the early 1980s, our marketing studies naturally involved the study of markets. We learned strategies that major brands of the time used to “attack” markets to gain market share that contributed to the growth of the enterprise. A successful attack usually meant that competitors were harmed, in the sense that market share was taken away from them. We learned tactics such as market segmentation, where, if a market was large, you could consider dividing it to conquer a particular portion, such as an age or lifestyle demographic.

The explicit goal was to carve out a segment whose needs could be better served with products designed specifically for them. A classic example at that time was the rivalry between Coke and Pepsi. Pepsi was favored by younger and more hip buyers, so who better to help them target that demographic than the larger-than-life pop icon Michael Jackson?

What’s interesting is that much of the marketing practices were borrowed—from the strategies to the language used for dominating markets—from one familiar model: the military. In fact, in a popular film of that era, Wall Street, there is a scene where protagonist Gordon Gecko recommends to his protégé Bud Fox that he read The Art of War, the ancient military treatise attributed to Sun Tzu, a ranking Chinese ...

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