Whose movie will you watch?

When you hear about a new movie, how do you decide whether or not it’s worth your attention? Probably based on who’s in it. Easy enough.

But how do you decide that say, Christian Bale, is someone whose movies you want to see? Probably based on what you’ve seen him do before. Probably not based on whether or not he won an Oscar last year.

If anything, Christian Bale winning an Oscar only serves to validate your opinion that he’s a good actor; it doesn’t really establish that for you. If he didn’t act for a year and thus didn’t win any Oscars, the next time he’s in a movie, you’d probably still want to see it. Because it’s not about the award; it’s about the trust he’s built with you.

When trying to break into a world we’re unfamiliar with, sometimes we aim for the superstars, the ones who’ve won awards and have been featured in major industry media. But even if we can get them on our side, are they really the ones everyone cares about?

What if an industry superstar is like an Oscar winner? He certainly deserves the award, but if he only have two fans, all the award has done is validate the faith those two fans had in him. People who didn’t know him before still don’t know him.

What if the real authorities of the world we want to reach aren’t that famous? What if we can’t Google the tribe leaders? What if instead, we look for the people with loyal followers, even if it’s fewer than a thousand?

What if, at its core, marketing is about joining a conversation, not starting it?

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