Raving (adverb): excessively passionate
Fan (noun): an ardent admirer or enthusiast
Does your business have raving fans? People who passionately talk about your brand, refer you to others, and repeatedly buy your products or services?
If we want our business to grow, we need to turn our buying customers into raving fans. Yes, there’s a big difference between the two. Customers may be loyal, but their allegiance could shift tomorrow.
Why Turn Customers into Fans?
A sports organization gets its strength and inspiration from fans. Win or lose, they will stick by their team. Fans can never be bought. Their dedication is earned. It’s no surprise that companies now include winning over people’s hearts, not just their minds, in their mission statements. It should be in ours too.
Fans are our best advocates. They’ll defend us when they feel our product is being unfairly maligned or attacked. Just check out the many passionate online discussions on who makes the better computer processor – Intel or AMD. Legions of these fans, on both sides (Team Blue and Team Red) will defend their preferences as if they own these companies. In a way, they are owners because they possess their products and are emotionally invested in these brands.
Creating raving fans means creating high customer retention. In a recent study, 65% of a small business’s gross income is from repeat sales. Furthermore, it costs 5 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain one.
This should be enough motivation for us to increase our efforts in keeping our customers. We can then nurture and turn them into our fans for years to come.
The Power of Word-of-Mouth Referrals
Fans are more engaged because they have bonded with your shop, brand, product or service. They will frequently mention you to others if the topic comes up. If they are active online, they may share your link in their social media and even create YouTube videos praising your product.
A Nielsen survey revealed that 92% of consumers worldwide trust word-of-mouth advice from family and friends. Seventy percent of the same people trust online reviews by customers. Less than 50% trust advertising.
These statistics are very telling. We need to generate and nurture fans to spread the word if we want to succeed in business.
Know Your Customers
First of all, who are your customers? Are you familiar with their needs and tastes? The best way to find this out is through market research on who your ideal customer is.
Practice empathy if you want to know more about your customers. When planning your products or services, focus on them and their needs first. This is what can set us apart from our competitors. Remember, we should always aspire to answer needs or solve problems. If we do, an increase in sales will surely follow.
Make the Little Things Count
Acknowledging a person’s entry into your shop with a greeting like “Good morning!” is not only polite. It’s your opening to get a conversation going. In case you haven’t noticed, most online marketing assets now have landing pages with live chat features. I’ve tried these out several times and I’m happy to report that I have often talked to real people and not just chatbots.
Whether you have a physical or online shop, here are some useful tips that won’t cost you anything:
|Greet visitors or customers as you would greet friends||Your home page has a friendly greeting|
|Always offer to help||Have a Help or Chat function on your website, as well as a contact page, address and phone number|
|Always thank your visitors, whether they purchase or not||Thank you visitors in chat|
|Existing customers appreciate being recognized and addressed by name||In your email list, have a field for their first name, and include this in all communication|
|Talk less and listen more||Practice this in chat or on the phone|
|Suggest, guide and advise, but don’t talk down to your customer||On the page discussing your product or service, emphasize the benefits more than the features|
|Avoid using scripts. These are supposed to just be guides to your own custom conversations.||Practice this in chat or on the phone|
|Ask for feedback and suggestions||Ask for a survey after a customer’s purchase or visit.|
|Don’t forget to ask for a contact number or e-mail address||After 5 or 10 seconds on the website, serve a pop-up for the visitor asking for their email in exchange for a discount or some free gift.|
In sports, it’s not just scoring that matters. Outside the matches, it’s the attitudes and actions of the individuals, as well as the charities and local events the organization hosts as further reasons why fans love their teams and take pride in them.
What are the little things in your business that can impress your customers? If you can find a common value with your customers, align yourself with them. For instance, if your know your customers care about the environment, proudly state that a portion of your revenue will be used to plant trees or be donated to an environmental organization.
Other “little things” that make a positive impression on your customers include:
- some sort of useful bonus within the packaging of your product, or exclusive discount offer for another product
- great customer service and ease of contacting you
- ease of warranty replacement or returns
- contests and sweepstakes
- sponsoring local events and charities
Deliver as Promised
Excellent customer service can’t make up for a shoddy product or service. They buy your products or services because you serve a need or solve a problem. If you fail to deliver, don’t expect these customers to come back.
Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for us), many businesses are only after making a quick buck and think only short term. Instead, think long term and of the customer journey. Don’t cut corners, and deliver high quality products or services.
When somebody buys your product and is impressed with the quality, there will likely come a time when a friend needs a similar item, and your product will come to mind.
Show Customer Appreciation
Express gratitude if you want to turn customers into raving fans. Sixty-Eight percent (68%) of customers leave because a business doesn’t care for them. From the same group of unappreciated customers, over half will tell their family and friends about their negative experiences.
Here are some ideas on how to show gratitude to your customers:
- You know who your regular customers are. Upon purchase, online or offline, give a gift in the form of a coupon, discount or upgrade.
- Send e-greeting cards. There are many and I suggest checking out, 123Greetings, American Greetings and Punchbowl.
- Send handwritten and personalized thank you notes for higher-ticket items. It’ll cost you less than $0.80 each including postage.
- Create a VIP group (see more below)
- Have a customer appreciation day or week.
- Keep your customers informed. Send them texts or e-mails on product updates and specials.
Definitely have an email list, but also have a separate “V.I.P.” list for those who have actually bought your product or service. You can do this through having them register for an extended warranty with their order number, for instance. That way, when you send out emails, send out special deals, exclusive contests and sneak peaks on new products just to your V.I.P. list.
You can also do this with a Facebook Group. Upon buying your product or service, offer an exclusive invitation into your group.
Showing customer appreciation is proactive. It lets everyone know we value the people who support us.
Become the Brand
Distinguish yourself from others if you’re a retailer or e-commerce seller. People flock to every new Apple release. They are not the only brand that sells smartphones, and they are actually one of the highest in price. However, Apple is the brand has long achieved almost cult status. Millions of people feel part of an exclusive group by having the latest Apple product.
For us smaller companies, we can still position ourselves as “the brand” in our niche. A great example is Death Wish coffee, who bill themselves as “The World’s Strongest Coffee”. They started out as a typical small coffee shop among hundreds of other small coffee shops.
They became successful due to distinguishing themselves from the competition and garnering a huge and raving fan base. How did they do this?
Marketing to their target audience.
They have “edgy” marketing, with an attitude that aligns with their name. This “edginess” attracts customers, who in turn also feel edgy and special.
They promote their brand.
They don’t just sell coffee. (If they did, they wouldn’t be any different from any other coffee shop.) Knowing that it’s the brand more than just the coffee, they also sell t-shirts, mugs and other apparel. This is almost a “reward” for their customers, who feel more exclusive by wearing their merchandise.
Knowing their customer’s values.
They know their customer’s values by partnering with organizations such as The Special Olympics and being the official coffee of New York Comic Con. In 2020, they are donating to service workers in need during the pandemic.
Online media outlets.
They have a podcast where they interview and talk about everything from celebrities to Japanese swordsmanship. They also have a newsletter and online community with exclusive content
They received huge media coverage by sending their freeze-dried coffee to the International Space Station … an instant viral marketing hit
They not only have a huge and active social media presence, but encourage fan-based Facebook groups of their products as well.
What can you do to make your brand rise above your competitors? How can you reward your new and existing customers so they continue to participate in your brand?
Build Your Social Community
Use social media to expand your reach and stay connected with your customers. It’s the space where like-minded people can meet. Take Facebook for instance. You can build your following by creating a Facebook group. Just click “create group” on the left-hand sidebar. Be creative with the name. I would ask my customers for suggestions. After all, it’s their group.
Inform your customers about your new group and invite them in. When they do, ask them to invite others. You can do this through contests as well, such as Upviral.
Facebook groups give us a chance to get to know our customers better. Discussions provide us with ideas on how to improve our products. It’s also an opportunity for us to share knowledge. More importantly, your Facebook group gives your customers a voice.
Create the Perfect Customer Experience
Creating a fan base begins once a customer is inside your physical shop or your online marketing asset. Whether online or offline, your first priority is to establish a connection with a customer. Get people interested, so they purchase now or at a later time.
Excellent customer experience doesn’t end with a sale, nor is it limited to your product. How a customer will feel about your brand will also depend on your after-sales service. Ultimately, it’s how you or your staff treat customers that determines whether you will succeed in business.
It’s the human element that makes all the difference. I’ve given you tips on the little things that count. Believe me, they factor in when customers rate you as a business. They’ll only recommend you and if they’re happy with your product and service, and they feel appreciated as a customer.
Let’s go out and create our raving fans! Join our newsletter below to continue learning about building your business.