Let’s say you are a die hard fan of the movie Memento, like I am. Think about the conversation you would have with someone who just saw the movie for the first time last night. Most of their input would likely be along the lines of “WTF did I just watch???”
Now how would that conversation change if you met another fellow die hard fan of Memento? You would have a COMPLETELY different conversation. You would get into dissecting individual scenes, the plot as a whole, you would question if it was really Teddy who slipped the note under Leonard’s door at the hotel, or was it someone else?
In her wonderful book Badass: Making Users Awesome, Kathy Sierra talks about how your most passionate users/customers have a different conversation than your regular customers. They are the ‘experts’ who hear music differently, the photographers who notice details in a landscape and how to frame a picture perfectly that the rest of us completely miss. They have a more advanced understanding of the things they are passionate about, and as a result, their conversations are more advanced as well.
I was remembering Kathy’s teachings when I recently heard the wonderful episode of the Punch Out podcast with David Meerman Scott as guest. First, David is absolutely brilliant and has some incredibly fascinating hobbies, so the episode is a must-listen purely for the entertainment value.
But David said something fascinating that ties into Kathy’s point about passionate users/customers having a different conversation around the things they love. David said “It’s a way to form really strong bonds with people, around a shared fandom, a shared emotional connection. At one time I was like ‘this is a frivolous hobby’, but it’s not. It’s something that’s really important for us humans, to be around like minded people.”
Whenever I talk to companies about building a brand ambassador program, one of the key elements I always address is the need to have a way for the members of the program to connect with each other. It’s incredibly important to have people that share a passion around an idea, a belief, or even a brand, connect directly with each other. I’ve often said that a rock concert is one of the greatest marketing inventions created. Think about what a rock concert is; you take hundreds if not thousands of fans of a rock artist or band, and stick them in the same arena and let them interact with each other. Being that close to so many people that share a similar passion or interest as you makes the entire experience that much better and more rewarding. It also increases your attachment and passion for the rock star.
So it makes sense to find a way to connect these customers to each other. Such customers are often great candidates for Customer Advisory Panels, or any group you create where you regularly solicit and act on feedback from customers. If you have a formal brand ambassador program, one of the important aspects is creating channels or tools that allow ambassadors to connect with each and become more comfortable together. This can easily be done with something as simple as a Facebook group or Slack channel.
Now, how could these special customers fit into your current marketing efforts?
Let’s remember we are talking about customers who are highly knowledgeable about your products and services. So much so that they likely will know more about your products and services than some of your newer employees. In other words, these special customers have the ability to be some of your best salespeople, if you tap into their abilities.
At this point, let’s revisit the buyer’s journey:
The best place to utilize these customers would be in helping move potential customers from the Interested to Ready to Buy stage. Potential customers who are already interested are likely doing research on your products and services as the final step before committing to a purchase. Think of these customers as your ‘closers’, the customers that come in and seal the deal/sale for the person who is almost ready to make a purchase.
Let’s remember that customers who are in the Interested stage of the buyer’s journey are doing independent research. They are perusing your company website for specific product information and details. They are also searching for feedback from other customers. Customer reviews on websites such as Amazon are a common choice as its important to hear what people thought about your product or service AFTER buying it. Savvy customers will also search for complaints about your products and services, looking for common issues or problems that customers encountered.
Which is why it pays to engage with your more advanced customers and give them the incentive and structure to engage with customers who are in the ‘Interested’ stage of the buyer’s journey. Encourage these customers to write reviews, publish blog posts, interact on message boards and forums.
The reality is that your most passionate customers are also your best salespeople. Research has shown time and time again that we don’t trust brands, but we do trust other customers.