MindFire Communications, Inc.
Do you think like a rock star?
November 13, 2012 | Lynn Manternach, Ph.D.

What’s the difference between you and a rock star?

It might be how you treat your customers.

I heard a great presentation by Mack Collier, author of the soon-to-be-released book "Think Like A Rock Star,” at the Social Brand Forum in Coralville last month.

Rock stars, according to Collier, are interested in creating loyal fans as much as companies are interested in creating loyal customers. But when it comes to how they go about making that happen, they could not be more different.

Rock stars focus on rewarding existing behavior, while companies focus on trying to change existing behavior.

The primary goal for companies is usually to acquire new customers. To do that, they have to get consumers to do something different than what they have done in the past. Changing behaviors and habits requires consumers to weigh the options, make a decision, and perhaps take a risk.

Companies use a lot of tactics to encourage consumers to change their behaviors. The most effective are price-based incentives, such as coupons, rebates, and free or discounted shipping. Financial incentives make it more likely you will change your behavior the next time you need that specific product or service, but they do not make you more likely to buy the product or service again after the initial purchase. It does not make you loyal.

The primary goal for rock stars, in contrast, is to build deeper connections and relationships with their existing fans. To do that, they look for ways to reward their fans for their existing behavior.

Collier talks about Taylor Swift’s special 15-hour autograph signing event for her fans in 2010. She signed more than 2,000 autographs, pausing only for a 90-minute acoustic set. The event was free, and the fans loved it because it was all about them. Taylor just wanted to reward her fans for their support.

The rock star approach for building loyalty works because it validates the fan’s reasons for supporting their favorite star or company or product. It connects on a personal and emotional level. It creates brand advocates and evangelists. And those advocates and evangelists help create new fans and customers.

Brand evangelists, according to Collier, spend 13 percent more than the average consumer. They encourage other customers to spend more. And brand evangelists refer business equal to 45 percent of the money they spend.

So companies focus on acquiring new customers, while rock star focus on connecting with fans and as a by-product they acquire new customers. Same end point, but two very different paths.

Assuming you’re not a rock star, how do you use this approach to benefit your brand?

  1. First, make sure your employees are brand evangelists. Help them understand what your brand is, what is exciting about it, and how it can make a difference for consumers. If employees are engaged and excited about your brand, they will want to evangelize it, and others will join in.
  • There’s a good chance you already have a brand evangelists out there. Who are they? What do they love about your brand? What do they think you could improve? Use the insight to help identify and convert more evangelists, as well as fine-tune the brand experience.
  • People want to buy from those they know and trust, so be human. Use social tools, like a blog or Facebook, to pull back the corporate curtain and connect with your customers. Learn about them, help them solve problems related to your product or service, and talk with customers rather than at them.
  • Make it easy for your customers to connect with you, both online and offline. Make all of your company’s contact information as easily available as possible, and encourage people to reach out. When they do, listen and whenever possible, respond. Consumers appreciate and value brands that appreciate and value them.
  • Empower your evangelists any way you can. Give them the as much information as they need about your brand, and access to as many feedback channels as possible. Treat them like salespeople for your brand, because that’s basically what they are. Make it easy for them to promote your brand to everyone they come in contact with.

Marketing like a rock star means rewarding existing behaviors and getting customers more deeply engaged in your brand. And if you’re doing it right, rock star rewards will come your way as well.

This article originally appeared in the Corridor Business Journal.

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