You’re Marketing to the Wrong People

by Mack Collier


This week I am headed to Louisiana to present Think Like a Rock Star to New Orleans’ AMA chapter.  One of the things I’ll talk about with that group is one of the key takeaways I had from researching and writing the book.

In doing research for the book, I wanted to learn how it was that rock stars could so easily create and cultivate fans.  I wanted to learn how rock stars create fans so effortlessly, then take that ‘secret’ and show brands how to create fans just as easily.

But the secret, isn’t what rock stars are doing, it’s what brands are not.  Brands aren’t marketing to the very customers that are most poised to drive real business growth.

Consider these stats:

  • Fans spend 13% more than the average customer – Satmetrix
  • Fans refer business equal to 45% of the money they spend – Satmetrix
  • Customers referred by another customer have a 37% higher retention rate

In short, fans create cash.  Rock stars have always understood this, and that’s why almost all of their marketing efforts are focused on their most passionate customers.  Rock stars go out of their way to create amazing experiences for the people that love them.  Because rocks stars understand that the best marketing in the world is spoken in a voice that the customer pays attention to.

Their own.

By embracing their fans, rock stars put their marketing in the hands of their most passionate customers.

In contrast, consider this final stat:  The top marketing goal for US companies is to acquire new customers.

Wait, what?

This was the most surprising thing I learned in writing Think Like a Rock Star.  Rock stars focus almost all of their marketing efforts toward connecting with their most passionate fans, the customers that are already giving them their business.

While in contrast, most brands focus almost all of their marketing efforts toward connecting with people that have never bought from that brand.

As a result, almost all of the rock star’s marketing is via word of mouth, from satisfied customer to satisfied customer.

On the other hand, almost all of the average brand’s marketing is via traditional marketing channels.

Who do you trust more:  Your best friend, or the commercial that just ran during Monday Night Football?


But the greatest irony is this:  Brands don’t embrace their fans because they want total control over their marketing efforts.  Yet rock stars have learned that when they give up control and freely give their marketing to their fans, they then earn the trust of their fans.

Those fans then willingly spread their marketing for them.  Funny how that works out.

PS: A special treat for you, I’ve done a free 50-minute webinar for Cision on Fans vs Influencers: Which is Better For Your Brand?  Hope you enjoy it!

Lisa Larranaga Denten October 15, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Great post, Mack, and a nice treat to share the webinar as an added bonus!

This post really makes us think and consider the path of least resistance, which is exactly what your research and advice showcases: keeping your current customers/fans happy.

Thank you for sharing!

Kelly October 16, 2013 at 3:26 am

Thanks to you and Cision for the webinar. I look forward to it!

I have found that one success factor in getting buy-in from teams on marketing to customers, not strangers, is understanding the marketing culture and background of the teams before diving into the topic. ( Sounds basic, right?) I hadn’t really thought about until I was faced with a team of marketers that came from a product orientation (as opposed to market or experience orientation)

I was speaking to a management group about referral programs vs affiliate programs. What seemed so crystal clear to me, a customer-centric marketer, didn’t compute at first to the product-centric marketers; that a referral program could not only reward but more quickly but also grow potentially more revenue, faster, over an affiliate program while also opening other doors to the company.

I ended up boiling it down to the difference between “warm calling” and “cold calling” (not so sexy, but it worked) but clearly I overlooked the marketing culture and background of the team when going into that conversation.

On the other hand when I speak to teams who embrace a market or experiential strategy, transforming customers into co-creators seems to make perfect sense them. Reaching out and embracing fans and advocates comes across loud and clear.

Mack Collier October 16, 2013 at 7:04 am

Fabulous point, Kelly! Understanding the culture you are trying to sell to is vital for success!

Kelly October 16, 2013 at 7:23 am

Mack! I just finished watching the webinar. Thank you so much for shining the spotlight on our Ambassador program and sharing it.

I’m thrilled about this program and look forward to its official launch. I can’t wait to share the webinar with our ambassadors, champions and the community at large!

Mack Collier October 16, 2013 at 7:30 am

You’re welcome, Kelly, you know I am a fan :)

Jose Palomino October 17, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Here’s the thing. For brands, marketing is in the hands of the consumer anyways — so why not focus on the passionate customers? Brands spend so much effort trying to go “viral,” but they really just need to spend effort providing what their most passionate customers want.

Mack Collier October 18, 2013 at 9:53 am

Jose there’s one thing I love about that picture above: Note all the SMILING faces. Rock stars are connecting with their biggest fans and making them HAPPY.

Make people happy and they will move mountains for you.

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