When I started writing Think Like a Rock Star, I began to research how it is that rock stars can so easily create and cultivate fans. I wanted to know how they do it, but more importantly, I wanted to know if they had a system or methodology that could be applied by brands to create passionate customers and fans.
The above graph shows the exact steps that need to happen, and in order, to create brand advocates. The problem is that most brands have little to no interactions with customers in order to start the process.
And to be fair, most customers don’t want to talk to most brands anyway.
But we know that we can’t understand our customers if we aren’t interacting with them and learning from them. Which also gives them the chance to learn from and understand us.
So how do you learn from customers that don’t care to learn about you? If customers won’t engage with you, you can at least listen to them. You can be aware of the online conversation happening about and around your brand.
That will give you a chance to engage with customers that are discussing your brand and the greater context that it plays in. Which means you can interact with these customers with a higher level of understanding about the customers you are engaging with. Who they are, what they want.
The more you interact with your customers and they with you, the more willing they are to lower their guard and interact more with you and on a deeper level. And if you communicate to them that you are willing to go deeper, they will lower their guard even further.
It’s about being committed to learning about your customers. Not just learning how to sell to them, but learning who they are so you can understand how they want to be sold to.
It requires you communicating to your customers that you care enough about them to take the first step:
I’m an Alabama fan so I am required to hate all things Auburn. But I love how Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl has embraced Auburn’s fans since being hired a few months ago. Bruce has especially gone out of his way to reach out to Auburn’s students. Pearl knows that it’s vital to the program’s success that he has buy-in from the students. They will be the most passionate fans at the home games and will bring the most energy. So he goes out of his way to engage the students, doing everything from handing out t-shirts on campus before games, to buying them lunch. Call it bribery all you want, but what Pearl is doing is communicating to the students that he appreciates them and understands how valuable they are. Trust me, a lot of basketball coaches do not do this, and Auburn’s students love Pearl.
Why can’t your company do the same thing? Why not bring in 10 of your customers to spend the day with you at your headquarters? Get to know them and let them get to know you. The insights you’ll gain directly from these customers will more than pay for the travel and associated costs.
Another key takeaway I had from studying how rock stars create and cultivate fans is that rock stars go out of their way to communicate two very important messages to their fans:
1 – I appreciate you.
2 – I love you.
In other words, they don’t have fans because they are rock stars, this is a huge misconception about rock stars. Rock stars don’t have fans because of who they are, they have fans because of what they do.
Your company has to want fans to have them. And you definitely want them.