6 Ways To Inspire Commitment In Your Tribe Members

Today we’re looking at 5 + 1 powerful emotional triggers that will make your tribe members committed to you and your tribe – or any tribe.

8 years ago Blair Warren published a very short, free e-book on persuasion. It’s called

“The One-Sentence Persuasion Course. 27 Words to Make the World Do Your Bidding.”

It’s the most concise, practical, and useful course on persuasion I’ve ever read. I own the ‘old’ free download, but I recently bought the updated 2012 version for my Kindle.

The One-Sentence Persuasion Course has been hugely popular, and is still quoted today by internet marketing gurus, like Rich Schefren.

Blair Warren has condensed 5 powerful persuasion insights into one sentence. He writes:

“They are simple, they are immediately useful, and they can be almost frighteningly powerful.

Hitler used them and nearly took over the world. Cult leaders like Jim Jones, David Koresh, and Marshall Applewhite used them and commanded such loyalty that many of their followers willingly – even eagerly – died for them.

And yet, these five insights are not only tools for madmen, but for marketers, salesmen, seducers, evangelists, entertainers, etc.

In short, they are the tools for anyone who must connect with others and, more importantly, make these connections pay off.”

Here it is:

Quote from the persuasion book.


It’s profound!

There are 2 parts in that sentence.

“People will do anything for those who …”

This is what you want in your tribe. Committed members who are eager …

  • to follow your lead.
  • to act on your “call to action.”
  • to buy your stuff. [if the tribe is your business]
  • to comment on your posts.
  • to recommend your tribe to their friends and business partners.
  • to share your content on social networks.

The second part of the 1-sentence-persuasion are 5 emotional triggers.

1 / 5 Encourage Dreams

The DREAM is not only the first of the one-sentence-persuasion principles, it’s also what Seth Godin defines as the core of each tribe.

Yesterday I quoted Seth Godin saying a tribe

“tells a story about who we are and the future we’re trying to build.”

If you haven’t read it, check out yesterday’s indepth post:

Emerals city and the ruby slippers. Representing the desire for a better world.

The primary emotion triggered by the dream is hope.

The central thought you need to establish is the belief it can be done.

2 / 5 Justify Failures

Justifying your member’s past failures helps you to overcome one of the biggest obstacle we all face: Our experience that in the past we have failed again and again.

Does ‘New Year’s Resolution’ ring a bell?

It results in learned helplessness. Our fear that we’ll continue to fail stops us from committing again. Stops your tribe member from fully committing to your lead.

By shifting the blame on someone else, or on some external circumstances, you relief people from that burden.

If done blatantly by blaming others, the draw back is that the person doesn’t take responsibility for her results.

But often that’s exactly the goal of this tactic.

By blaming the ‘previous guru’ YOU become the savior, you’re the good one.

screenshot sales letter

3 / 5 Allay Fears

This continues points 1 and 2. The dream needs to be seen as doable.

There are 2 main areas of fear to cover:

a)      The person’s fear of not being good enough to participate in the tribe’s dream. I talked about learned helplessness above. Another way to look at it is self-efficacy, the measure of the belief in one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals.

b)      All topics specific to your tribe that might appear daunting to a newbie. For example, when you create a tribe of soon-to-be-bloggers you have to deal with the fear they might not master the technical aspects of running a blog. Or the fear of not having enough ideas. Or the fear of being a bad writer.

4 / 5 Confirm Suspicions

Confirming suspicions helps your tribe member building a big ego.

“I knew it!”

If you’re looking to build a tribe of investors who rely on [and pay for] your financial advice, you’ll do well confirming their suspicions how EVERYBODY is after their money. No, they won’t get the irony.

You’re selling investments in gold? Confirm their suspicion how the dollar is doomed. How the economy will collapse, and gold is the only save haven.

You’re not planting new suspicions, but you tap into the strong convictions people already have.

Boy with tin foil hat.

5 / 5 Establish Enemies

The second effect of confirming suspicions is that it starts to divide the world into separate groups, and one needs to decide to which group to belong.

The others obviously are the bad guys. Or the stupid guys.

Justifying failures and alleviating fears positions you as the good guy and increases your tribe member’s belief in oneself.

Establishing enemies helps to tie your group together by pointing fingers at ‘the others.’ The outsiders cannot be part of your tribe. The bad guys cannot be part of your tribe. The stupid guys cannot be part.

Depending on the topic, your tribe might even become a lifesaving necessity protecting its members from the enemy.

So far a quick overview over 5 emotional tactics you can use in your tribe communication.

Whenever and whereever people form powerful bonds, these insights are more often than not lurking in the shadows.” ~ Blair Warren

I have only scratched the surface. It seems silly when stripped down to a few sentences, but once you start paying attention, you’ll see those principles popping up everywhere.

  • Read sales letters.
  • Listen to recordings from so-called gurus.
  • Watch presentations from thought leaders.

They all position themselves as the good guys – but they do it using the powerful psychological mechanisms described here.

Now for something very important!

Depending on how you mix these triggers together, you’ll get tribes that ‘feel’ different.

This is what the second part of this post is about:

There’s a continuum of emotional and mental maturity in tribes you can build. Here are tribes at 3 different levels of maturity.

1. Emotionally Immature Tribes

Justifying fear, confirming suspicions, and establishing enemies resonates with low-level emotions. It gets most approval from mentally challenged people; people who fail to create an accurate mental model of the world.

Many providers [but not all!] of the ‘make money online’ and ‘business opportunity’ niches cater to people with little self-control and lots of blaming others for their circumstances.

screenshot internet business sales letter


If, as a leader, you connect to their frustrated emotions, it’s easy to build a tribe. It’s easy to sell the dream again and again to the same people. Not based on them actually changing their life, but based on tapping into their emotional frustrations.

This tribe also resonates well with conspiracy theories.

Of course, you get what you ask for:

  • Those are the customers with the highest refund rates.
  • They are the ones, who flood your support desk with complaints and who won’t follow your instructions.

There’s no peace to be found in catering to a tribe based on low level emotions, fault-finding, and complaining.

It can be a viable business model, though. There’s lots of money in these tribes because they are so emotional. If you want to go for it, I recommend not to attach yourself to the tribe, but to outsource content creation and customer service.

2. Intellectual Tribes

Once you leave emotional immaturity behind, you’ll encounter tribes who shift the blaming and fault finding to an intellectual level. [Welcome to my world. 🙂 ]

Here you’ll find the thought leaders. The Seth Godins.

They’ll thrive on distinguishing the ‘old’ and the ‘new.’ The blaming, of course, is targeted on ‘the old.’

But it’s done on an intellectual level.

  • You can leave the torches at home in this tribe.
  • All you need is a pen, a book, or a keyboard and a blog.

For Seth Godin’s tribe the enemy is the old corporate world, the factories, the age of industrialization. It’s the system that raises you to be a functioning part in the machinery.

The thought leader thrives on calling-out the old and announcing the new age of progress and individual dreams.

The dream is needed. After all, HOPE is what fuels tribes.

3. Enthusiastic Tribes

It’s possible to build a tribe without negative emotions and without intellectual fault finding.

You don’t need to point fingers at enemies, and you don’t need to engage in blaming.

I believe these mature tribes are on the rise. Or is it wishful thinking?

Obviously you expect that kind of tribe from spiritual leaders, like the Dalai Lama or Eckhart Tolle.

But you can also find them in business.

Think of Stephen R. Covey. He’s calling out our faults – but there’s zero blaming attached. Neither emotional nor in intellectual disguise.

Or, take a look at the tribe of Mari Smith.

Screenshot Facebook Page of Mari Smith

You can scroll through Mari Smith’s fan page years back.

  • You won’t find her saying a bad word about anyone or anything.
  • Instead Mari’s always enthusiastic, always positive, always uplifting.

The same is true for her entire tribe. It’s a joy to participate in her closed Facebook groups because everyone is enthusiastic, helpful, and engaged.

For more examples of leaders building their communities with enthusiasm look at Guy Kawasaki or Rebekah Radice.

It doesn’t mean that all followers share the same level of maturity, but it means they are drawn to the role model the tribe leader represents.

The 5 tactics from the 1-sentence-persuasion will get a better response in the first 2 types of tribes above.

For what I call the “Enthusiastic tribe” I like to add one more element.

“People will do anything for those who …

… make them feel alive.”

This is fairly abstract.

I could have written:

  • Who uplift them.
  • Who ignite their enthusiasm.
  • Who interrupt their boredom.
  • Who distract them from their depression.
  • Who give them the energy to follow their dream.

Like the desire for a changed world [the dream], the desire for feeling alive is a very basic need.

That’s why it works so well.

Joseph Campbell quote.

The enthusiastic tribe fits well with the dream. Once we’ve removed their fear, justified their past failures, the best thing to do is creating the energy to work on the dream.

The circle closes.

We start with a dream. Then we move our member through the emotional and intellectual steps needed for commitment. Then commitment makes creating the dream possible.

How does this information help you build your tribe?

In this post

  • You’ve seen 5 + 1 powerful emotional triggers you can use when talking to your tribe.
  • These triggers can be attached to any topic, can be used for whatever tribe you wish to build.
  • The more triggers you use, the more ‘fanatic’ your tribe will be.
  • You’ve encountered the new concept of thinking about your tribe in terms of emotional and mental maturity.

Based on these insights you can start designing your own tribe communication.

  • If you’re a multi niche marketer, you can design your tribes on all levels. Attach the different styles of communication, the different messages, to your content for the different niches.
  • If you’re a personal brand, you’ll most likely build a tribe that matches your own level of maturity. It would be outright stupid and frustrating to build a tribe below yourself.
  • If you want to stretch yourself, you might decide to target beyond your own current development. Because you will consciously work to inspire your tribe beyond your current level, it will speed up your personal development.

Final thoughts: This may all sound very technical to you, and it can be used that way. Copy writers, book authors, and speech writers have check lists, and they make sure to pull as many triggers as possible.

The more you’re focused on selling, the more busy you are with the technical aspects of integrating the psychology into what you do.

The more you are devoted to a passion, or a higher goal, the more natural all the pieces will come together. Not as a result of check lists, but as a result of being fully engaged. Awareness of the psychological principles is still useful, but it won’t be your top priority.