When I wrote Think Like a Rock Star, I spent a lot of time researching how rock stars connected with their fans, and the marketing strategies they employed. One of the biggest lessons I learned is that most rock stars are excellent at understanding this key lesson to building a successful business:
Reward the behavior you want to encourage.
Rock stars love their fans, but they also view every fans as a potential driver of business. They know that every fan they have will promote them to their friends and family. As such, every fan will help drive ticket sales, merch sales, and album sales. Rock stars trust their fans and empower them to market for them.
Rock stars want fans to engage in particular behaviors: Such as promoting them online, and offline. So rock stars go out of their way to connect with their fans directly, because they know this connection will build trust and admiration for the rock stars, and will encourage them to promote the rock star to their friends and family. And it also serves as the reward for fans that have already done so.
Every year as part of the CMA Music Awards, country music stars will participate in a Fan Fair. It’s a chance for fans to meet their favorite artists and get a picture taken with them or an autograph signed. Typically, an artist will stay for a couple of hours, maybe a bit longer. In 2010, Taylor Swift stayed for an incredible 13+ hours to sign autographs for her fans, occasionally stopping to perform music for them.
But that pales in comparison to what Garth Brooks did in 1996 at Fan Fair. In 1996, Garth Brooks was the face of country music, and one of the biggest music stars on the entire planet. He was not scheduled to attend Fan Fair in 1996 and wasn’t promoted as being there. During the middle of Fan Fair, he showed up, unannounced, and went to an unmarked tent to start signing. He stayed for a staggering 23 hours straight signing autographs for every single fan that showed up. He never left the tent, not even to use the bathroom. Security at Fan Fair tried multiple times to end the session so Garth could leave, and each time he told them no.
Rock stars view their fans as promotional partners and they trust them enough to empower them to market for them. As a result, they act differently toward their customers, and they treat them differently after they engage in the behavior that they are trying to encourage.
Now, how does this apply to your business?
Think about the types of behaviors that you would like to see your customers engage in. Such a list for most businesses would probably look something like this:
- I want customers to buy from my business
- I want customers to continue to buy from my business and become repeat customers
- I want customers to increase the amount of every order
- I want customers to generate positive Word of Mouth about my business
Now think about your marketing strategy in terms of:
1 – What can I do to get my customers to engage in these behaviors?
2 – What can I do to reward my customers for engaging in those behaviors?
Many businesses focus only on getting customers to buy. But if you look at the above list of desired customer behaviors, there’s a natural progression, isn’t there?
You want customers to buy from your business. Customers that buy more than once become repeat customers. Customers that buy repeated from a business tend to purchase more from that business, because they trust them. Customers that trust your business, will promote you to others, generating positive Word of Mouth.
So if your business had a mechanism in place to reward customers for engaging in the behaviors that you desire, that would not only encourage them to CONTINUE to engage in those desirable behaviors, but it would also encourage them to move to the next stage of desired behavior.
Let’s look at a couple of examples: One of the desired behaviors above is “I want customers to continue to buy from my business and become repeat customers”. Then create a Loyalty Program. A loyalty program would not only encourage customers to become repeat customers, it would reward customers for engaging in the behavior of making repeat purchases.
Another example: One of the desired behaviors above is “I want customers to generate positive Word of Mouth about my business.” Then create a Customer Advisory Panel. Dell did this in 2010, they identified customers online who were creating content around the Dell brand, and invited them to come to their world headquarters in Austin, TX. This happened again in 2011, and I was lucky enough to work with Dell to facilitate and moderate both events. During the 2011 event, the customers that attended were surprised when CEO Michael Dell joined briefly to say hi to the group and answer questions.
By holding this event, and having Dell’s CEO and CMO speak to the group, it communicated to the customers that Dell valued their time and feedback. This improved the customers’ perception of Dell the brand, and rewarded them for engaging in the behavior that Dell desired, and at the same time encouraged the customers to CONTINUE to create positive word of mouth about the brand.
So much of marketing for many businesses is simply focused on getting a sale. Just get someone to buy once, that’s it. Few businesses think about what happens AFTER the purchase. How do they ensure that the customer is satisfied, maybe even thrilled with the purchase? What reward is given to them for engaging in that behavior? How do you encourage the happy customer to continue to engage in the behavior that you want them to?
:What happens after they buy?” is a question every business should be asking. What do you WANT to see happen? Do you have the process in place to make sure your desired outcomes are met?
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