Competition in business used to be down the street. Today, with the rise of the Internet and social media, competition seems to be everywhere. Gone are the days we win over the customers based on the product or service alone. In the new world of competition, the relationships we build with our customers play a more significant role than the solutions we offer.
Fanocracy: 9 Steps to Turning your Buyers into Fans
Step #1 Get closer than usual
The degree of human physical proximity is directly proportional to our shared emotion. Get as close as possible with your customers or fans. Whenever possible, position yourself in at least 12 feet apart with other people, even if only for a few moments. If you’re onstage, get offstage. Increase your backstage interactions. When your customers see you interact with their peers, they feel as if you’re interacting with them too.
Step #2 Let go of your creations
Do your work but leave the fandom alone. Appreciate the way your customers see your work but don’t try to control it. If you do so, the relationship starts to deteriorate. Understand that once your work is out there, it’s not entirely yours anymore. Fanocracy is built on the experiences of all people rather than limited to the imagination of the creator.
Step #3 Give more than you have to
Give with no strings attached. Giving with strings attached feels like coercion. Give freely and avoid doing bare minimum. You’ll be surprised by how your customers keep coming back to you.
Step #4 Build identity to become more than the product
Fanocracy starts to creep in our lives at an average of age twelve and it can profoundly shape our beliefs about a given brand. So, appeal to young audience during their adolescence. Make your product not only a symbol but also a status symbol through consistency and authenticity.
Step #5 Be Smart about influencers
By bringing together a variety of diverse and talented individuals, you create meaningful human connections. Your influencers don’t always have to be full-time professionals in your niche. Invite anyone passionate about your work to be your brand advocates. No one will sing your praises louder than your passionate fans do.
Step #6 Break down barriers
Welcome your fans into your world. Be transparent. Take for instance, Audi invitees its North American customers to travel to a factory in Europe so they can go on a tour together, visit the Audi museum and meet the people who built their cars. In fanocracy, your fans are part of your family. So, treat them as such.
Step #7 Listen to re-humanize
There’s nothing wrong with collecting and assessing your customers’ digital footprint. In fact, brands that don’t leverage consumer data cannot expect to win the long game. That said, there’s only so much the technology can do. For instance, technology hardly captures the real-world emotions and purchase decisions. With that in mind, use technology as an enabler to humanize your brand. Remember your customers are much more than a string of numbers.
Step #8 Tell the truth, especially when it hurts
Here are some statements we see and hear frequently but simply don’t buy into them anymore.
- Your call is important to us. (then why doesn’t a real human pick up the phone?)
- Due to higher than expected call volume, your wait time is longer than normal .(OK, then why aren’t you hiring more reps?)
- We love our customers. (shouldn’t we feel that instead?)
- Supplies are running low! (are you trying to get rid of the excess stock again?)
- This is the best price we can offer. (yes, until I walk away)
Be specific and clear about the truth. Use humor if possible. Take KFC for example. Due to the supply chain inefficiencies, KFC ran out of chicken on one unfortunate day. It cleverly changed the logo to FCK, and quickly issued the statement below:
“We’re sorry. A chicken restaurant without any chicken. Huge apologies to our customers, especially those who traveled out of their way to find we were closed. And endless thanks to our KFC team members and our franchise partners for working tirelessly to improve the situation. It’s been a hell of a week, but we’re making progress, and everyday more and more fresh chicken is being delivered to our restaurants. Thank you for bearing with us.
Step #9 Develop your employees into walking evangelists
“The ranking on Glassdoor is a lagging indicator of what we’re doing. Not a leading indicator of what we’re doing.” – Katie Burke, Chief People Officer of HubSpot
Authentic advocacy on the inside sparks overwhelming fanocracy on the outside. Hire for passion and train for skill. Passionate employees are excited about you, their work and they’re eager to spread the words. Ask three questions when you interview:
- Does this person have passion?
- Do they know what they’re passionate about?
- Will that passion help further my brand’s cause?
Always be looking out for the needs of employees and rooms for improvements in employee engagement.