Marketing to the Bottom of the Pyramid

Explore the values of Truth, Trust, Tribes, and Trials to reach customers in need

Course Details

  • Price: FREE
  • Time: 4 hours/week
  • Duration: 6 weeks
  • Instructor: Seth Godin, Mary Pat Ryan, Lindsay Stradley

What You’ll Learn:

  • Understand your customer’s worldview and the emotions that influence their purchasing decisions.
  • Identify the most trusted sources of information for your customers.
  • Refine your marketing message by gaining deeper insights about your customers through a trial of your product or service
  • Learn the concept of WWITMF (Why and What would I Tell My Friends) and preparing for your trial


In this 4-module course, you’ll learn the 4Ts Framework (Truth, Trust, Tribes, and Trials) to help you deliver new solutions to customers living in emerging markets. You’ll explore and discuss case studies from Sanergy, an innovative company working to improve sanitation in urban slums and an Acumen investee. Through a deep examination of personal behavior and worldview, you will learn the role of emotions in customer decision-making, and reflect on ways to treat customers with dignity and respect.


  • Team-Based Course: We strongly encourage (but do not require) that you form a team of 2-8 people to take the course with. It works best to find friends or coworkers who can meet in person. Need to find team members? You can post to the discussion forums a month before the course starts.
  • Platform: Teachable (+Acumen developed the course. We host this course on the Teachable platform.)
  • Timing: This course will be open for 6 weeks. You can work through the materials at your own pace during the time the course is open. There are no required times for you to log in. There will be suggested deadlines for you to complete each assignment. The final deadline is the final day of the course.

Course Syllabus

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  • 4 reading guides highlighting case studies and examples
  • 4 workshop guides to help guide your journey from Truth to Trials
  • Video tutorials from marketing experts including Seth Godin, and Acumen investee Sanergy
Section 1: Introduction to the Course
  • Video: Marketing with Dignity
  • Video: Buying for the First Time
  • Video: 3 Reasons We Still Haven’t Gotten Rid of Malaria
  • Reading: What is Marketing?
  • Reading: Identifying Your Marketing Challenge
  • Reading: Going Deeper with Target Customers
  • Activity: Defining and Scoping Your Marketing Challenge
  • Activity: Your Visual Challenge
Section 2: Truth
  • Video: Truth in Customer’s Worldview
  • Video: Sanergy: Creating a Sustainable Sanitation Cycle in Kenya
  • Video: Seth Godin – Trust and Personal Worldview
  • Video: Sanergy: Paths for Truth
  • Video: Sanergy: Still Uncovering the Truth
  • Reading: Truth
  • Reading: Your Truth as a Consumer
  • Reading: Your Target Customer’s Truth
  • Case Study: Sanergy
  • Reading: Sanergy’s Customers’ Truth
  • Reading: A Brand Pyramid
  • Activity: Your Customer’s Truth
  • Activity: Brand Pyramid
Section 3: Trust and Tribes
  • Video: Intro to Module 3
  • Video: Trust in a World of Risks
  • Video: Trust =/= Proof
  • Video: Sanergy: The Face & Place of Trust
  • Video: Tribes: People Like Me Do This
  • Video: Tribes: Stories to Bring
  • Video: TED Interview: Tribes Author says People, Not Ads, Build Social Networks
  • Reading: Trust and Tribes
  • Reading: What Does Trust Mean to You?
  • Reading: The Way Your Target Customers Trust
  • Case Study: Sanergy
  • Reading: Tribes, the Key to Developing Trust
  • Activity: Trust Diagnosis
  • Activity: Tribe Analysis
  • Activity: Tribe Map
Section 4: Trials
  • Video: WWITMF
  • Video: Sanergy: Try, Try, Try & Trial Again
  • Video: Sanergy: Trials and Truth – Practice Both
  • Reading: Trials
  • Reading: The Value of Trials
  • Activity: The Why (of WWITMF)
  • Activity: The What (of WWITMF)
  • Reading: Trial Planning
  • Reading: 10 Tips for Talking to Customers
  • Activity: Trial Planning
  • Activity: Prototype Design
  • Activity: Summary Deck
The course already started. Can I still enroll?
You can enroll up to 2 weeks after the start date of the course.
When will the next course be offered?
We offer our courses a few times a year. Sign up for our emails to be notified of the next time the course will be offered.
Do I get a certificate for this course?
You will earn a Statement of Accomplishment if you complete 5 of 6 assignments, including the final assignment, by the last day of the course.
How do teams work?
We recommend you find friends or colleagues for your team that you can meet with in person each week. Each team member should register for the course individually. You’ll then be able to form your team on the NovoEd platform once the course begins.
Do I have to complete the course with a team?
While we believe taking the course with a team will give you the best experience and chance of completing the course, it is possible to complete the course individually if you wish.
What should I expect from the assignments?
You will create a Life Map, develop your own personal story, integrate it into a larger presentation, and record your presentation for feedback from your classmates. You should allocate at least one hour a week to complete each assignment.

Supported By

Lindsay Stradley is the co-founder of Sanergy, a company that provides high quality sanitation in urban slums. She is based in Nairobi where she oversees Sanergy’s Operations and Consumer Marketing.

Mary Pat Ryan is an experienced marketer and operations executive who has advised the CEOs of Acumen investees on marketing. She is no stranger to figuring out how to bring new innovations to market, and had a hand in several new media businesses that transformed their industries, such as HBO, DirecTV, IMAX, and SiriusSatellite Radio.

Seth Godin is a marketing guru and the author of 18 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything.

What People Are Saying

Rebecca Willett, BoP Marketing Specialist, Agruppa

"This course changed my vision entirely of marketing, especially in the BoP context, and allowed me to have some amazing insights about our company’s target market and the messaging we need to reach them. Highly recommended!"

Rebecca Willett, BoP Marketing Specialist, Agruppa