Book Summary: Brains on Fire

There has already been a great deal written on the changes that the digital era has brought.

However, as the authors of Brains on Fire point out, we may have missed the point.

Because the world is no longer divided into B2C and B2B, but rather into P2P. It turns out that the Internet revolution isn't about technology or social networks; it's about people.

People haven't changed much in the last 20 years, even though technology has. They still rely on the person down the street for a good gardener recommendation. Alternatively, ask the lady next door for a piece of advice for a great downtown eatery.

As our globe has grown larger, it has also shrunk. This is a book on what to do when the "people" rule. Once more.

1. Movements vs. Campaigns

Happy woman moving her body.

Movements are far more potent than campaigns in a society where the "people" possess all the power. The following is how the writers define a movement:

A movement unites individuals behind a similar cause, passion, enterprise, brand, or organization by elevating and empowering them.

However, with so many marketers using this term these days, it's easy to become perplexed. So here's how you tell the difference between a movement and a campaign in the field:

  • It's a campaign, not a movement if it has a beginning and an end. Movements will persist as long as like-minded people are willing to join.
  • You're at a campaign meeting if the terminology sounds like you've landed in the middle of a World War II strategy session. It's as though you've arrived in the middle of an evangelical lecture. The words "passion," "love," and "inspiration" are frequently employed.
  • You're listening to someone talk about a campaign if the language is dry and distant. People have a hard time removing the "me" from the equation in movements. If you've ever been to Toronto, you've probably overheard someone declare, "this is the year we'll make the playoffs." However, they've plainly never played professional hockey and will never do so.
  • Last but not least, campaigns are where you communicate about yourself. When other people talk about you, it's called a movement.

It may be difficult to distinguish between a campaign and a movement, but make no mistake: they are two different things with very different outcomes.

Let's move on to how you may begin to create a movement.

2. Movements aren't about the product; they are about passion. Movements start with the first conversation. Movements have inspirational leadership.

Great leadership that help others team mates.

You'll have a hard time understanding that you can't develop a movement around a product or service at first.

You must start a movement around something that people care about. That passion must be internal as well as external, not simply exterior. This is why.

It is contagious to be passionate about something. You can't stop a fire from spreading outside your four walls if your whole organization wakes up every morning with a fire beneath them because they like what they do.

So, how do you cultivate that enthusiasm?

First and foremost, you do not make it; rather, you discover it.

You can't just decide in a boardroom with your top executives that your firm would become enthusiastic about something. You must go out and speak with your staff and customers to learn what they are already excited about.

It's quality insight, not quantity that you're chasing at this stage.

Avoid focus groups and market research if you can; you'll seldom find enthusiasm in those situations. Consider sharing a cup of coffee with a coworker instead. Learn what keeps people awake at night and motivates them to get out of bed in the morning.

Over time, it will become obvious how your company's work affects the lives of the individuals you serve.

Second, passion isn't something that comes out of nowhere; movements begin with the first discussion. Your first enthusiastic supporters are formed during these initial discussions, and they are crucial to your success.

Listen carefully to what they have to say, and then provide them with anything they require to help spread the news about your business.

Third, movements are led by inspiring figures. The leadership, on the other hand, comes from your community, not from within your company. These jobs can be paid or unpaid, and the people you pick should be familiar with your location and organization.

They must have a passion dial that goes to eleven, as Spinal Tap so charmingly puts it. Rock on!

3. To create a movement where the leaders take ownership, you need to create a barrier to entry.

A man building a gap or barrier with a woman by saying no.

Surprisingly, making a purposeful attempt to keep people out is one of the best strategies to expand your cause. Giving out "free goods" to entice people to join your cause is certainly a formula for disaster.

Because we enjoy huge numbers, it's simple to slip into this trap. It simply feels better to have 1,000 people sign up for our free t-shirt and stress ball than to have 10 people join up and be completely dedicated to the cause.

However, suppose we learn from Geno and his gang's actions. In that case, we will choose quality over quantity every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Allowing a person to join solely through an invitation is one of the greatest methods to build entry barriers.

This is something that the Jehovah's Witnesses organization excels at. As you may know, when their recruiters come to see you, they usually come in pairs of two.

When they return the second time, you will recognize one person and another who was not present the first time. They repeat this procedure four times to know at least four individuals by the time you are formally a member of the community.

Are you more likely to return if you already have contacts in the movement? You are, of course.

This also gives the group a sense of ownership. When you put your community members in control of "who gets in," they will take great care with this duty.

They go above and ahead of the call by taking on greater responsibility for your neighborhood. They not only promote your community's name, but they also become its caretakers.

4. Movements empower people with knowledge and make their advocates feel like rockstars.

A rockstar have a lot of fans.

How can you get those who already adore you to fall even more in love with you? You need to arm them with knowledge.

People who care about you want much more information than you ever imagined.

All of the things that make your employees' eyes glaze over—the company's history, the odd anecdotes about your origins—are the things that strengthen your relationship with them and urge them to contribute even more.

What matters is what individuals do with this information. Fiskars, a business that manufactures hundreds of items, including the iconic orange-handled scissors that virtually every family has in their kitchen, has done this better than anybody else.

They started a trend among scrapbookers who were enthusiastic about utilizing Fiskars items in their projects. Here are some lessons you may take away from them:

  • Fiskars sends its top ambassadors (dubbed the Fiskateers) to their Madison headquarters to immerse them in the company's ethos. This is like traveling to scrapbooking Mecca for the Fiskateers. They tell customers nearly everything, making them feel even more connected to the brand.
  • Fiskars compensates the top Fiskateers. This is when things may become a bit contentious. Many people would tell you that this isn't "genuine." Do what works for you, in my opinion. The important thing is that they were enthusiastic about the project.
  • Fiskars assigns these lead ambassadors particular obligations, including how often they must blog and host community events. Just keep in mind that you're not there to edit or control what they write; rather, you're there to help them obtain the knowledge they need to write about what they're passionate about.

The conservatives among us would be afraid of saying something negative about the firm. But, as Fiskars' VP of Brand Marketing, Jay Gillespie, puts it, "it's good to hear the terrible things because now you can address them."

Nobody ever said starting a movement was simple.

5. Cultivating closeness fuels results.

A man drawing a ship.

None of this would be worthwhile unless it improved the bottom line, whether that bottom line is money, whale conservation, or whatever your cause is.

Movements, fortunately, produce outcomes. When you initially start a program like this, you can't even imagine the results.

Traditional marketing and advertising are one-way streets, with little or no contact between consumers and firms. That's a pity because consumers are useful for much more than just purchasing goods from you.

This is evident to Hermann Simon, author of Hidden Champions of the 21st Century, often regarded as the Good to Great of the mid-market.

His book analyzes firms that are #1 or #2 in their field (Jack Welch would be proud) with less than $1 billion in revenue and are largely unknown. In his investigation, he discovered a few fascinating items:

  • An extremely high number of employees in 88 percent of highly successful firms have consumer interaction. In reality, smaller businesses have roughly 5 times the amount of client engagement as bigger businesses.
  • Maintaining a strong relationship with your most demanding clients necessitates high levels of performance and creativity. As a result, you'll be able to charge greater pricing and generate bigger profit margins.

One thing is certain: this isn't traditional advertising, where your return on investment is confined to a very limited range 19 times out of 20.

On the other hand, creating a movement appears to be a real chance to generate some outsized profits for your organization for those who are prepared to put in the effort and reap the rewards. It appears that generating money and making a difference in your clients' lives go hand in hand.


This book is for you if you're ready to take a hard look at some of your old habits and are willing to put in the effort to start a movement.

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