hand holding a smartphone showing the Clubhouse app on the screen
Marketing

Clubhouse: The Newest Killer Digital Marketing App

Ryan Mann

March 25, 2021

Clubhouse wasn't a digital marketing app made for brands. It was made for people. I've been watching Clubhouse skyrocket in popularity for months now, and I've even been asked by several prospects and customers what I thought about Clubhouse. Is it a fad or something that's here to stay? I've always thought it was here to stay because Clubhouse's entire app is about the core of marketing; connecting people to other people like them. It's what I like about tribal marketing, which almost isn't "marketing" at all.

Marketing Has Changed Drastically Recently

Over the last 15 years, digital marketing has redefined what marketing is and how it gets accomplished. In the past, we had Madmen on Madison Avenue calling the shots and making brands and their products come to life in a myriad of ways. Brands were personified and evoked feelings about lifestyle. With the shift to SEO, PPC, and other annoying acronyms, marketing got a little more accessible and allowed small-budget players to grow and scale. These tactics haven't gone anywhere, but they have become increasingly difficult to rely on as big budgets came to pay, and algorithms let them play.  

As a reaction, the goal was to generate leads, also known as getting someone's contact info so you can have your outbound sales team call on them. This usually happened through an offer. Most likely, a piece of gated content like an eBook or industry report that allowed you to collect an email address. This is still a reality today, but these downloads or emails do not signal any buying intent, in all honesty. I am the guy who gives you my email to get my information and immediately unsubscribes once I've got it.  

Social media disrupted those tactics in the same way that PPC and SEO disrupted expensive tv and radio advertising. Again, the little guy could get their piece of the pie by building a strategy that directly showcased their products and services to consumers in the channels where consumers were increasingly spending their time. Now, social media is as much pay-to-play as its predecessors, and the algorithms aren't working much differently.

Marketing in 2021

Today, a marketer's job is twofold: education and facilitating connections. That's why I've been talking about tribal marketing, owned media, and brand marketing to my customers and would-be-customers. The buyer's journey is often random, and rarely does it fit into a neat funnel anymore. As marketers, we need to be taking an omnichannel approach and focus on finding the right buyers and getting them to engage with a community of other people like them.

two men looking at each other

Queue Clubhouse. A social platform bursting with potential that is so refreshing from the idiocy of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. It's almost like someone thought those platforms had long lost their vision and purpose and decided to create a platform around conversation. In a world where social media has been one unbearable monologue after another (looking at you, Aunt Judy), Clubhouse opens the dialogue with your fellow humankind again. It's a much more positive spin on an increasingly worthless social experiment.

 

What Makes Clubhouse a Good Digital Marketing App?

I'll give you some sort of a case study here. My outfit manages the marketing strategy and branding for an industry influencer, Cassandra Gaines. Her audience spans hundreds of thousands each month through her social media channels, weekly live show, on-demand viewing and listening, and newsletter. Her audience is comprised of three distinct but (sometimes) cooperative arms of the supply chain industry: shippers, brokers, and carriers. These three audience segments are responsible for making sure your consumerism habit remains uninterrupted.  

However, any good audience needs one crucial thing to keep growing: a set of raging fans. I call these fans evangelists because they are always sharing the community's mission and bringing others with them along the way. Clubhouse is the social platform for these evangelists. In our first week of launching Clubhouse as another channel to engage with Cassandra's audience, it became clear what Clubhouse is supposed to be used for. It was a panel discussion with experts and fans chiming in to add value, educate, lend their unique perspective, and ultimately move the industry and conversation forward. No movement needs the adoption of all individuals. It only needs the rabid adoption of a small group that catches wind of a vision and seeks to make that vision a reality.  

Three Use Cases for Clubhouse as a Brand

Thought Leadership Discussions

Thought Leadership is taking center stage within the realms of a good content strategy. Today, there is so much information available to your customers that just having a blog is no longer helpful. That blog has to be your editorial. However, it is extremely hard for subject matter experts to find the time to write a good article or even be consistently active on LinkedIn. We are living in the age of the corporate influencer.  

Clubhouse is a perfect format for someone to schedule 30 minutes out of their day for a PLANNED panel discussion with some colleagues and have guests in their network listen in. Even still, Clubhouse goes one step further and lets your guests have the opportunity to participate in the discussion by raising their hand. So, instead of a stuffy seminar, you've created a university lecture hall and can exchange ideas with anyone in the room. Your listeners can go from passive participation to active participation.

Subpoint: Social Listening

This allows for insanely good social listening. Clubhouse removes corporate boardrooms' formality and stress (virtual or otherwise), and slides in relaxed conversation over the phone. Clubhouse creates a Marketplace of Ideas kind of environment that all can benefit from.  

For example, during the Madgaines Live Afterhours that we held at Clubhouse. The panel from the live show transferred over to Clubhouse to continue their conversation. The live show lasts for one hour. They'd already been talking about this topic for an hour, and you know what happened? The conversation got better. The relaxed environment alleviated the performance aspects of a live show and allowed for the panelists to really go into detail about their perspectives.  

Not only that, but people who watched the live show and made the move to Clubhouse (about 30% came over) raised their hands and provided their insights, further enriching the discussion. By doing so, Cassandra Gaines was able to take a step back from being a hands-on moderator to a more passive role and letting things play out. I would argue that it was also a good opportunity for her to identify future guests for other topics her show might cover.

 

Networking

This is more from my own experience during the same Madgaines Live Afterhours on Clubhouse. I certainly was able to interact with thought leaders that I had not met before. But because they were in the Clubhouse with me, I gained a few new LinkedIn connections from that 30 minutes.  

In the B2B world I live in, connections are almost everything. Marketing creates a lot of stickiness in the process of educating new prospects on an offering and building a qualified pipeline, but if you know someone and they like you, even better. In my experience, conversations on Clubhouse can transfer to offline conversations very quickly or down the road.

Moving a Mission Forward

The whole vision of Madgaines Live is to bring brokers, shippers, and carriers together to talk about the hot-button issues that face the supply chain industry. Cassandra has done a fantastic job tearing down a lot of the walls that exist between those three pieces of the industry, and anyone that listens to her show is bound to gain incredible insight into the forces that shape our reality. Clubhouse allows her true fans to participate in that mission.  

Seth Godin says the purpose of marketing is to connect people to other people like them. Clubhouse is almost a perfect embodiment of that idea. Through peer-to-peer invitations, fans can play a role in furthering the mission of the Madgaines' community by bringing their friends into the fold directly. Madgaines is all about transforming the supply chain industry. Clubhouse is a platform where everyone that wants to can have their voice be heard in the spirit of furthering that mission.

Transformation, Not Transaction

In the world of COVID-19, a lot of people lost their mojo. For some, it's been a year since they've seen loved ones. This reality has set us back a couple of levels on the Hierarchy of Needs regarding our personal and professional lives. People need to meet their needs of belonging and esteem in a way I have never experienced. I believe that marketers and brands that want to continue to win need to adjust their approach from a "look at me" megaphone to a "let's go forward together" mentality. Clubhouse is an excellent channel for brands to do just that.

Share your experiences. Share your expertise. Share your story. These are the things that transform an industry, business, and our lives.  

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