Grand mission but tiny marketing budget? Use the power of tribes

Grand mission but tiny marketing budget? Use the power of tribes

The coffee market is a pretty crowded place but radically cool brand Moyee manages to get noticed without George Clooney. How? They do what American marketing guru Seth Godin has been preaching for a while now, they assemble a tribe. Read here how Moyee inspires like-minded to spread their word.

Radically good coffee

Amsterdam based coffee brand  Moyee has started a revolution against the domination of ‘Big Coffee’. Why? Because according to them these multinationals profit hugely from charging premium prices for mediocre coffee whilst paying the bare minimum to farmers growing the beans. Moyee wants to bring around ‘a revolution in the way we do coffee’. They state that fair trade, all though  an honourable idea, results in low paid farmers producing low quality coffee. Instead, they say, we need fair-chain which aims to bring back value adding activities, such as roasting and packaging,  to the coffee producing countries . Not only will this create employment and higher prices for the farmers, reducing the need for development aid, it will also give us espresso addicts higher quality coffee for lower prices.

They call it radically good coffee. Who can argue with that? Good stuff right? Hands up for Moyee!

How to get noticed if you can’t afford Clooney?

But how are they getting those hands up?  Or down in wallets? The coffee market is a pretty crowded place. How to get noticed when your marketing budget  is nowhere near George Clooney’s hourly rate? And,  even more difficult, how to get the fair-chain philosophy across when most people are only just starting to pick up on fair-trade?

Seth Godin on tribes

American guru Seth Godin has been preaching it for a while now; “Most organisations spend their time marketing to the crowd. Smart organisations assemble the tribe.”  And that’s just what Moyee is doing. Moyee isn’t targeting most people. They are looking for those who believe what they believe. People that share their world view and passion to make a change. They work hard to connect with and earn the trust of a group of likeminded that want to be part of their story, their revolution. So Moyee is not growing a random community of coffee lovers, they are building a tribe.  A tribe of  ‘FairChain revolutionaries’.

It’s social media, stupid.

But how will a bunch of revolutionaries ever give them the scale they need to ‘change the way we do coffee’? People with a strong passion or interest are generally eager to publicly support and recommend what they believe in. And today , thanks to internet and social media,  this traditional word-to-mouth spreading by enthusiasts can get amplified dramatically. Research shows that more than eight in ten consumers prize friends and family as the most important thing in life and they are turning to their social networks as well as consumer reviews to discover, choose and share brands.

Philosophy-based brands such as Moyee benefit even more because , as successful eco cleaning brand Method’s cofounders put it  “The shift from mass media to social media moves the advantage from the companies with the most ad bucks to companies with the most compelling mission. People may see and remember a great add but they will spread and bond over a great mission.”  If done well, your tribe can grow fast and wide. Which will attract more attention, even of those not ordinarily interested in these kind of issues. Remember the Thunderclap campaign for Phonebloks when in a short period of time close to a million people worldwide endorsed the idea?

But it takes more than a strong social media strategy to grow a loyal tribe.

Three basics on how to grow a loyal tribe

So growing a tribe is powerful  way to get your message across. But how to do it? How to connect people to your story? And how to inspire them to spread the word? Here are three basics to start with:

1. Start with why

I believe in social capitalismFirst of all, and this may not come as a surprise, start with a belief. Or as Simon Sinek would say; “start with why”. You need a cause that connects people. Having a clear defined enemy – in Moyee’s case ‘Big Coffee’ – can help sometimes. This gives your customers a cause to fight for – or against.  But off course people can connect over all kinds of shared interests or beliefs. But don’t forget to keep your message simple so it’s easy to understand and, even more important, easy to share.   “I believe in great coffee and radical impact”.

2. Two-way relationship

Second, and this may sound like a no brainer too, but be personal and make an effort to really connect. Creating a loyal tribe is like any relationship; it really has to be two-way to last. Be kind to those that support your cause. Express your appreciation for their endorsements.  Invite people to talk to you and listen to what they have to say. Get to know them. As Method’s founders put it “The difference between a mass-market brand and a belief brand is like the difference between a monologue and a dialogue. Mass brands talk at people. Or more accurately they SHOUT. Belief brands listen and create a conversation”

Moyee invites their tribe of revolutionaries to join them in creative brainstorms and hackathons on for example innovative distribution models or smart agriculture. By doing so they not only get bright new ideas but also connect the people in their tribe to each other.

3. Make it about them (and not you!)

Moyee lucky bastardWhich brings me to the third aspect; make sure people find value from their involvement. Remain relevant to those that support you. No matter how passionate somebody is, at the end of the day we all think ‘what’s in it for me?’. It’s only human. So connect the people in your tribe to each other through events – Moyee organises a ‘First Roast party’ soon – or other activities. Or reward them with perks such as letting them give away free products to their friends.   Moyee calls this ‘crowdspeak’: ‘buy one, give one free’ for all FairChain revolutionaries.

And last but certainly not least, always remember it’s about total value. Moyee never fails to makes sure you know their revolution is not just about farmers in Africa but also very much about ‘barista quality coffee for a reasonable price’. A lot of their content is centred around the quality aspect such as posts teaching you how to make the perfect cappuccino or slow coffee. Or a funny short video called ‘Under the influence’ which shows a taste test where people, after smoking cannabis, are filmed talking about the way Moyee coffee tastes.


Sources: / Seth Godin on tribes / ‘The Method Method’ by Eric Ryan + Adam Lowry / ‘Start with why’ by Simon Sinek /


  1. Clear view and i think this works. My only doubt. I am the fouder of a social enterprise, Peer. 50% of our employees are accounting professionals with a working handicap. The why, two-way relationship and ‘making it about them’ are clear. I get my clients mostly from firms who work on the same wave: sustainability, social enterprices etc. BUT my mission is to get the message across to ‘normal’ firms. I don’t want to create a ‘reserve’ of ‘good companies’, I want to be part of the total business community. What to do? Target on the small group with fast success, or target on the wider group, with slower success?

    • Hi Otto,
      thanks for commenting on this post and sharing your considerations! Creating a tribe can be powerful but might not necessarily work best for everybody. Peer, being a B2B company selling financial services, might benefit more from a different approach. As you said, creating scale means not just operating in the niche, targeting only fellow ‘do-gooders’. Scale means reaching those not ordinarily interested in ‘social & sustainable’. Two things are important here:

      – delivering total value: being a social company is great but ‘what’s it to me’? Does it give me better quality, a better price, faster service? Why would I choose Peer, besides being a social company? That’s why Moyee always talks about ‘barista quality coffee for better prices’. Also MVO Nederland stated in their trend report 2015 that being sustainable as a unique selling point does not necessarily sell (

      – being an excellent teacher: why does being social actually matter? This may sound like a ridiculous question to you but if you want to reach thise not tuned into these issues you need to explain why it matters. Good teachers know how to identify with the person they are trying to teach: someone who isn’t yet convinced in any way, who doesn’t at all yet know why something matters. All though you yourself have long been informed and convinced about a certain subject. Teaching requires a surprising act of imagination, and translation: one has to imagine (or just remember) what it felt like not to know or care. read more on how Chipotle does this in another blog I wrote recently:

      Does this help? If not feel free to contact me!


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