Coming off an atrocious 108-loss season, the Baltimore Orioles decided to double-down on thanking the season ticket holders that stood by the team.
The players recently wrote handwritten thank you letters to season ticket holders. Orioles Director of PR Kirsten Hudak talks about pitching the idea to the players:
“I wasn’t sure what the reaction would be. The guys that I spoke to about it were immediately supportive. I saw many of them sit down and start writing right away. It felt like they had something on their minds or something they wanted to say and that was an opportunity for them to do it in a heartfelt way.”
Rewarding season ticket holders for their support is something many sports teams do at all levels. I’ve written before about how the Alabama Crimson Tide’s softball team (one of the top programs in the country), has its players and coaches hand-deliver season tickets to its fans.
As you can see, these two examples cover both ends of the spectrum from a fan support angle. The Orioles are no doubt scrambling for ideas to revitalize interest in a struggling team, and smartly thought of a way to reward their biggest fans with handwritten notes. On the other end, Alabama has been winning big for a while, and no doubt view the personal delivery of season tickets as a way to keep the momentum going with its fan support.
I think the word ‘fan’ has an interesting stigma around it. It seems like a special person who loves a sports team or rock star.
The reality is, a ‘fan’ is simply a customer. A passionate, loyal customer, but a customer nonetheless.
If you look at your customers in this context and overlap the above examples, you can easily see how ‘fans’ would be present in many businesses:
- Frequent customers to your store that you recognize as soon as they walk in.
- Loyalty club members
- Subscribers to your company newsletter
All of these customers have signaled to you that they enjoy interacting with your company. If you think of fans as being ‘people that love their favorite sports team or rock star’, why can’t you think of the above customers as being ‘fans’ or customers that love you?
In the previous post I talked about how rock stars have fans and companies have customers. Rock stars don’t have fans because they are rock stars, they have fans because they love their fans. They understand that having fans is a mindset, if you love and appreciate your fans, you deepen their love for you, and you act in ways that will encourage other people to become fans as well.
I shop a lot at WalMart and Publix. So much so that many of the employees at both stores will recognize me as soon as I walk in. Yet when I shop at Publix, the employees will always greet me with “It’s good to see you AGAIN’. They are communicating to me that they notice and appreciate my frequent visits. That’s one reason why I prefer to shop at Publix, because WalMart’s employees don’t bother to notice me, except for one cashier who always says “It’s good to see you AGAIN”. Guess whose line I prefer to go through at WalMart?
Creating and cultivating fans is about creating and cultivating a mindset that recognizes your fans and that communicates your appreciation to those fans.
Every business has loyal customers who are ‘fans’. The smart companies are the ones that reach out to their fans and let them know that they love them right back.