The ever brilliant Jacobin magazine, self-billed as Reason in Revolt, published a creative piece that looks at demographic exclusivity. Titled “Twenty-First Century Victorians,” writer Jason Tebbe examines niche group in society that lives in yoga pants and shops at health food stores. Just like the morally superior culture of the Victorian-era, this new group looks to set itself apart through what it sees as superior lifestyle choices that mirror their values.
This is a particularly interesting observation from a marketing perspective because it flies in the face of branding that tells you to appeal to everyone, to push for a level of sameness in the hopes of connecting with a wider net group. Let’s look at spin classes and gluten-free diets, for example. While these things are for everyone, they go further for others. They grow into becoming part of a lifestyle for some. And through that, consumers carve out their own identity.
Let’s repeat that. You’re not building a brand that caters to people. You’re building a brand in which people find themselves, in which they identify themselves. While Tebbe looks at it from a larger consumer point of view, we can look at it in the other ways exclusivity has surfaced and then apply it to email marketing.
You see exclusivity in brand name labels and ivy league schools. You saw it in the art of Andy Warhol and between the walls of Studio 54. You even saw it in the iconic artists who passed away last year, including David Bowie, Prince and George Michael to name a few. These are all concepts, places and people that show something not everyone can have – and that makes them coveted.
Exclusivity works because it appeals to basic psychology. For one, it signals scarcity. Not everyone has it or can have it means that it must be exceptional. And vice versa, once you build that value, scarcity heuristics kicks in which shows that it’s more difficult to acquire an item the more value it has. A blog post by Nir and Far sums this up pretty well by showing us how the context of a thing matters just as much as the thing itself.
Consider what happened when the world-class violinist Joshua Bell decided to play a free impromptu concert in the Washington, DC subway. Bell regularly sells-out venues like the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall for hundreds of dollars per ticket. But placed in the context of the DC subway, his music fell upon deaf ears. Almost nobody knew they were walking past one of the most talented musicians in the world. When Bell gave away his concert for free, few stopped to listen. But when he charges beaucoup bucks, his music becomes a rarefied commodity and thousands of people pay-up.
For you, this doesn’t mean charge for your email marketing campaigns. What it means is offering content that is exclusive to just your email campaigns, whether it’s videos, image storytelling or exclusive content — and then create buzz around that exclusivity by dropping teaser bread crumbs in social media, on your website and in the media and press circuits. Being able to successfully pull this off and position your email marketing as an exclusive VIP destination is something you can really only alongside building your brand and creating buzz around the thought leadership you have to offer in your industry.