MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2023

The Importance of Community, The Role Fear Plays in Forming Communities, and How You As a Marketer Can Fight Against Fear with Jacco van der Kooij

After three years of intense social change, Jacco van der Kooij gave the closing keynote at 2022’s B2B Forum.

Jacco highlighted the importance of community, the role fear plays in forming communities, and how you as a marketer can fight against fear.

Check out a clip from Jacco’s keynote here, or read the transcript below.


What we see here, over the past three years, is things have happened. Things that we cannot ignore.

Every year, a massive change has occurred, one after another.

And if you even open up your news app today, you’re gonna be overwhelmed with this.

We as marketers and salespeople cannot just look at that and go like, “ah, it’ll be alright.” It won’t be. We have a role to play!

Over the past years, decades have happened. But also we have learned decades worth of content. We have learned the knowledge of decades in these simple three years. This is what we’re going to use.

What you’ll see here—Seth Golden has a book about this—but these squares represent the [number] of communities that we are participating in. This is not academic research. I’m not trying to point out how big or how small they are, I’m just pointing it out to you. A lot of communities that we were a part of. You were part of your community at work. You were part of… your direct family, your brothers, your siblings, your children, and so on.

But you were also part of many other communities. You may have been part of the gym. You may have coffee every now and then with somebody. There’s a lot of these subcultures that you were part of. And before there was Covid, this was that picture.

But then Covid happened. And as Covid happened, it took over some of these communities because we could no longer have coffee with each other. We could no longer hang out as friends.

And as you see the before and after picture, you start to see friends and family. Indirect family really got cut out of that.

And as a result, three communities remained. Work, your direct family (those you live with), and online/social.

And this is where great things happened… and not so great things.


I want you to understand that because of Covid, we look at the companies we work for and with as communities. Sometimes right—when we bond together—and sometimes not right.

The third part of that community is the online/social. Now, here something odd happened. When I looked at my online communities, I presumed that people that were behind those communities were similar thinking or similar, yeah, were real people.

Since then, when I started to see who they were, I go like, “dude,”—and I’ll exaggerate—”you’re 18 years old and you talk about deep enterprise sales. How can that be? Like, wait, what? No.”

During covid, a change was caused.

Now what we notice is that we, as human beings, thrive on communities. The way we think about communities and the way they influence our lives, they make us more happy. Your happiness is a direct reflection of the communities that you’re part of. If you’re part of a number of great communities, you’re gonna be happier.

Communities generate such an emotion in your brain that the absence of communities actually will cause you physical harm. You will feel physical pain.

We human beings use our prey drive—but to us it’s called survival instinct. And where the survival instinct comes from is as follows. When we believe that we are under threat, fear is looming, we naturally start to create a community. Human species’ survival is not based [on swimming] deeper than a shark. It’s not based [on outrunning] a lion. It’s not based [on being stronger than] an elephant. None of that.

Our sole reason that we really are flourishing in today’s world, is because we become a community. We build a village, we open up a church, we add the soccer field in Europe to it, right? And so on. We build that community and that community becomes strong, and can defend itself.

And this is instigated by the signal of fear that something is happening. What this fear is doing, it is triggering us to become part of a community. It is triggering us to group up with equally-minded people so we can build walls, so we can build castles, so we can protect our fields.

I’m gonna bring this [around] in the best way I could: in cartoon style.

Once upon a time there was a man in a van. And that man experienced that crowds, when they are together, unleashed like a secret ingredient within each other.

Covid came and told us all to go to our own room, told us to do our own thing, and we felt all alone. And in that aloneness, we started to think conspiracy theories and whatnot: “they’re out to get us!” And it pinned us against you versus us, I versus you, them versus us, and so on and so forth.

It is a human instinct, when that happens, to start going to a community which amplifies itself and create an echo chamber.

But in the end, like the trees, we’re all connected! We’re all living off each other’s fears.

But so too, can we live off each other’s joy.

As Martin Luther King said—and obviously with a lot of freedom and respect for him—I say the following:

“Only joy can drive out fear.” And that [idea] I give to you, to start sharing in your brand.

Published 4/12/23

B2B Forum is packed with marketing insights, strategies, and tactics taken from the real world experience of over forty industry experts, packaged into context you can actually put to use.

Join us in Boston for B2B Forum 2024 this coming November 12-14, 2024. Early buyers get B2B Forum tickets at their lowest rate, and discounted hotel rooms are available while they last.


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