Last week in a Frost Advisory cleverly titled “We are Fam-i-ly, Part One” I shared how the need to belong is built into us. With every “I’m a proud parent…” bumper sticker, posting of a political statement on Facebook, wearing the colors of our alma mater, or championing our favorite radio station, people desire to show others they belong to something important.

My Pyromarketing friend Greg Stielstra shares this story.

“I hiked Burgess Falls in Eastern Tennessee last weekend and found this tree along the trail. It was scarred with carvings. “Jimmy loves Betty.” “Roger and Veronica true love always.” No other tree along the trail had any such carvings, but this one was covered.

In uncertain situations we copy other people’s behavior. It’s called social proof and it explained why this tree was covered with carvings while others were spared. Most people wouldn’t think of carving their name into a tree in a state park, but this tree already had some carvings in it. That precedent was a sort of tacit permission to do the same and dozens of people did.

Social proof is a powerful force in marketing too. Our world offers nearly infinite choice and people have neither the time nor the inclination to figure out which product best meets their needs. Unable or unwilling to figure it out for themselves, they simply do what others have done. It’s why bestselling books remain bestsellers. They’re not better than other books necessarily, they’re just more popular and that popularity begets more popularity.”

After a recent mission trip to the Dominican Republic my wife wore a simple little string on her wrist for several months. Each member of her group had cut a piece of a larger string to remind them that what happened on that trip was a part of something bigger. In fact it was so important to her that she wore the string until it fell off.

Mark Ramsey reminds us that we’re not just another radio format. He urges us to contemplate the ramifications of being the largest church in town.

Unfortunately only a handful of stations have learned the real power of our format; something beyond a bunch of unfamiliar music and disc jockeys saying something religious every once in awhile. Few have learned it can be the most meaningful format on the dial where people really can feel a part of something bigger than themselves.

In fact, like fam-i-ly!