The introduction to the book Creating Customer Evangelists tells the story of Southwest customer Ann McGee-Cooper. One month after the September 11 terrorist attacks, with the airline industry in complete chaos, Ms. McGee-Cooper send Southwest a check for $500, and a letter which included the following explanation:
We are encouraging our clients to fly Southwest Airlines. We are buying more stock…and we stand ready to do anything else to help. Count on our continuing support.
As for the $500 check, she explained that she sent it because Southwest needed the money “more than I do”.
If your company is lucky enough to have just ONE Ann McGee-Cooper as a customer, then no amount of advertising or marketing you could ever do, will be more effective than what she does every single day. Customers like McGee-Cooper are fans of your company. They go out of their way to tell others about you, and they try their damnest to convince everyone they know to give you their business. Because they believe in who you are, and what you are doing.
I left this comment to a post on Brains on Fire’s blog:
Find the people that are already singing your song, and give them the stage, the spotlight, and a microphone. We all want to be rockstars, and we tend to love the companies that make us feel like we are.
This is what I love about social media. Now all your customers have these new content creation tools to take the word of mouth that was formerly trapped offline, and bring it online. Now you have the ability to FIND that WOM, and can easily identify who your fans are.
And when you do, all that’s left is to give them the stage, the spotlight, and a microphone.
Oh and a hug and saying ‘Thank you!’ wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.
PS: Helping companies connect with their online evangelists is the type of work that I love doing. If your company is considering such a project, please email me as I’d love to work with you to help get such a project off the ground.
Pic via Flickr user Hiddedevries
Suzanne Vara says
customers want to know that they matter to you. We saw this with the Old Spice vids where people were watching to see if their question was going to be answered. People want that limelight. Customers need the emotional connection to a brand to be able to sing their praises. When we have a problem and a brand handles it in a way that we would expect or if they exceed our expectations we cannot help but tell everyone and the same goes for when it is below our expectations.
Behind every brand is a person and people relate to people. As a brand understanding your customers, how they relate to each other and how they relate to the brand. People will support someone/something that they feel will support them.
Fans are everywhere … finding them all is people relating to people.
Mack Collier says
Hey Suzanne, great thoughts! I think what can really benefit companies from regularly connecting with their online evangelists is that they will then have a valuable feedback loop in place. Yes, it’s awesome to reach out to evangelists and give them the tools to help promote you, but these people are passionate about your brand and WANT to see it succeed. They will be more than happy to tell you if you are screwing something up, but THEN they will want to help you fix it.
There’s just SO much untapped potential for companies in reaching out to their most passionate customers.
tom martin says
You have always been a case study for making indie bands into rockstars.
Hope some smart company takes you up on that offer.
It’s concepts like this that make me feel like I already knew about it but needed to be told, reminded and informed about. Might use this a bit more in my upcoming campaigns.