The Power of Embracing Your Fans As A Feedback Channel

by Mack Collier

In the last year or so, brands have been increasingly aware of the power of connecting with their fans.  Unfortunately, most brands are excited about the potential of connecting with their fans as a way to help their customers ‘tell our story’.  The thinking is that brands can leverage their fans as a way to share the brand’s message to other customers.  Because we all generally accept that interactions we have with our friends and family are more trustworthy than those with brands, right?  So Brand A thinks ‘Hey, if we could get our fans to promote our brand to their friends and family, that would be awesome!’

What most brands are missing is the massive potential that their fans offer as a feedback channel.  Not only for their own experiences with the brand and its competitors, but with other customers.

For example, let’s say you’re a fan of Vizio, and the brand is training you on how to connect with other customers.  If a friend says they are thinking of buying a new 32-inch television, which question should you, as a fan of Vizio, ask?

1 – Have you considered a Vizio?

2 – What features are you looking for in a new television?

Many brands want their fans to ask the first question because they think it will generate more sales, but the second one is far more valuable for the brand.  The first question helps Vizio determine if customers are considering its brand, while the second question helps Vizio determine what customers want from a new television.

Another what-if scenario:  Let’s say Vizio has 100 fans that all meet another customer that’s in the market for a 32″ television.  If after asking these 100 customers what features they are looking for, they find that 64 customers say they want a new television that has 1080P resolution, and 57 say they want a new television with a 120Hz refresh rate.  39 customers want their television to have both these features.

If Vizio is focused on manufacturing 32″ televisions with 720P resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate, this information might could as a bit of a surprise to the brand!

One of the core lessons I cover in Think Like A Rock Star is that your brand cannot truly cultivate fans until you make a sincere effort to understand your customers and they understand you.  Your customers will not advocate on your behalf until they trust you.  And they will not trust you until they understand you.

Your goal as a brand is not to solely leverage your fans as a channel to market on your behalf.  Your goal is to better understand your fans, and to create a relationship with them that benefits your fans and creates value for them.  A wonderful byproduct of such a relationship is that it will lead to sales for your brand.

Oh and in case you were wondering, Think Like A Rock Star shows you exactly how to connect with your fans, as well as how to structure your staff internally and exactly what you need to do to grow a deeper connection with your fans.  As well as how to leverage that connection into growth for your business.  Amazon currently has Think Like A Rock Star on sale for its lowest price so far, only $14.21!


Jennifer Kent November 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm

That is a great point Mack. Understanding what your customers truly want is a great win for everyone.

I can’t wait to read Think Like A Rock Star!

Mack Collier November 13, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Thank you Jennifer! Unfortunately, too many marketers want to put their best interests above all others, when there’s often a smart way to create value for the customer AND business at the same time.

Penina November 13, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Thanks for this big reminder, Mack.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about about the many assumptions we make as we define our customers. When I assemble personas, I’m writing about what *I think* the customer looks like, and while it’s important to spell out who it is we want to reach, we also need to step back and question those assumptions. Marketers have never been better equipped to simply turn around and ASK!

Mack Collier November 13, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Penina you are exactly right! Never in the history of man has the individual had so many communication tools available to him, which means brands also have never had more opportunities to connect DIRECTLY with their customers!

The potential ramifications are staggering. Brands are doing themselves a huge disservice if the totality of their vision is to see this opportunity solely as a way to leverage their customers as new marketing channels.

Davina K. Brewer November 14, 2012 at 2:53 pm

This is why I don’t get ignoring or deleting comments, good or bad Mack – social tools give brands incredible data that has real value. If only they’d listen – even ‘quietly’, as Apple does monitoring its discussion boards. Companies get precious insight and feedback into products, pricing, service.. so many things that could help them do more, do better, be smarter and more successful. FWIW.

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