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Chapter 2 | Orbit Guidebook

How ORBIT Works

ORBIT is a simple model that solves the complexity of modern marketing.

Learn the language of ORBIT to understand how brands are maximizing opportunities for engagement, differentiation and loyalty.

The ORBIT system

To think about engagement in a many-to-many world, start by imagining a solar system with Shared Purpose as the sun.

When they first hear about ORBIT, most people imagine a solar system with their brand as the sun.

But in an ORBIT strategy, Shared Purpose is at the center of the system—and you and your stakeholders are orbiting around it together, along with everyone else that shares the same Purpose WITH.

Remember, Shared Purpose (Purpose WITH) is a bigger goal than you can accomplish alone, so other brands will likely share it with you.

Read more about Shared Purpose in the xShift Essentials Guidebook.

Who's in your ORBIT?

Stakeholders are like moons orbiting around your brand.

In this new solar system—or social system—brands engage a variety of stakeholders: employees, customers, influencers, citizens, donors, alumni, investors, etc.

Brand Gravity is the force that attracts new people into this social system and keeps everyone connected.

The ORBIT experience

An ORBIT is made of ongoing relationships that create a gravitational field around your brand.

Remember, ORBIT means Ongoing Relationships Beyond Individual Transactions.

As stakeholders orbit your brand, you want them to have experiences and interactions that advance Shared Purpose, reinforce shared identity and create shared value—whether or not they involve a transaction.

The gravity field is generated by trust, gratitude and reciprocity. Gravity attracts new people into this social system and keeps everyone connected.

From loyalty to gratitude

The purpose of most loyalty programs is to drive repeat transactions. But ORBIT is built on relationships, not transactions.

In a relationship, loyalty is reciprocal. You want your customers to be loyal to you. But are you also loyal to them?

To build a strong ORBIT, focus on the Shared Purpose rather than your product or brand. The transactions you desire will occur naturally within the context of the long-term relationship between your customers and your brand. Show customers you're acting on your Shared Purpose—and making it easier for them to do so too.

You will know you are on the right track because your customers will not only be satisfied but grateful.

How can you turn your loyalty program into a gratitude program?

EXAMPLE

Patagonia

This outdoor gear company invites customers to participate in their Shared Purpose—“to save our home planet”—by giving them the opportunity to trade in their worn-out gear.

Once gear is too worn to be used, customers can send it back to the company to be recycled or repurposed into something new. Customers get a credit—and the gear stays out of landfills.

Patagonia activates loyalty to Shared Purpose by offering customers an opportunity—within their brand orbit—to handle their worn or out of use gear in a planet-friendly way. And for eco-conscious customers, purchasing new gear may seem like an easier choice knowing their old gear will be put to good use.

Touchpoints for purpose

For a strong ORBIT, create opportunities to fulfill Shared Purpose.

The graphic shows different types of touchpoints—interactions, activities and experiences stakeholders can have with a brand, whether delivered directly or with partners—grouped by how they relate your purpose:

  • Purpose TO: Some touchpoints are transactional, such as Purchase and Use.
  • Purpose FOR: Some relate to social responsibility, like Volunteer and Donate.
  • Shared Purpose (Purpose WITH): Some touchpoints relate directly to Shared Purpose, like Educate, Listen, Co-Create, Connect and Self-Express. These are the most powerful touchpoints for creating pull.

Social gravity pulls others in

People in your ORBIT naturally pull in others who share their purpose, identity and values.

With a strong ORBIT, customers stay in contact with you because of the value they get from the relationship, not just because of transactions they need to make.

As with any strong relationship, they are more likely to talk about you to their friends, family and social media followers. But this isn’t just about how many likes you can get on Facebook.

It’s about building enduring, meaningful and authentic relationships with your customers and the people in their lives.

From segments to facets

Instead of market segments, think of customers as whole people with various social facets.

To segment is to divide something into parts, like segments of a grapefruit. Customer segments divide people by gender, income, location or geography.

The reality is that people are multi­-dimensional. Social facets are more than interests: they are roles and identities.

Instead of a “soccer mom,” a person might be a mom, soccer parent, wife, daughter, sister, foodie, executive, cyclist, baseball fan and vegetarian.

Social facets involve relationships that are important to your customers. Look for ways to enable and empower them.

Exercise

Map social facets

For each customer or stakeholder type, identify different social facets. What social roles do they play? What identities do they hold? For example, a customer may be a parent to children, a colleague to co-workers and a teammate to other athletes.

Recap

ORBIT is a simple model that solves the complexity of modern marketing.

  • Shared Purpose is what transforms customers to co-creators.
  • To think about engagement in a many-to-many world, start by imagining a solar system with Shared Purpose as the sun.
  • Stakeholders are like moons orbiting around your brand.
  • ORBIT relies on ongoing relationships to create a gravitational field that attracts and keeps customers.
  • For a stronger ORBIT, create opportunities to fulfill Shared Purpose together.
  • People naturally pull in others who share their purpose, identity and values.

Read more:

"How Top Brands Pull Customers into Orbit"