How are you ensuring that your marketing builds brand awareness and positive ROI?
Is it with analytics? Automation? The latest marketing software? If so, you must think deeper.
For the past decade, people have been bombarded with superficial communication, funneled into automated email sequences, and tracked by data collectors. More tech is not going to make your marketing more effective.
Instead of becoming statistics, people want something else. They want true human connection. They want purpose more than products and services. And they want to build meaningful relationships with the brands they buy from.
In other words, they want fandom.
Fandom is all about building authentic relationships with your customers. Fandom is about finding your customers’ purpose for buying what they buy. And Fandom is about putting the needs and wants of your customers above all else.
Businesses that can do all the above embody what I like to call a “fanocracy.”
Here are four ways fandom will improve your marketing and your business, from your branding and employees to your customers and the community:
1. Attracting and retaining talent.
Fanocracy is not limited to your customers. Being authentic, building genuine relationships and treating people like human beings applies to employees as much as it does to customers. Just ask Richard Branson.
Finding and retaining the right talent for your business is essential—without high-quality employees, how can you expect your business to succeed? Though money and perks may be enough to attract some people, most employees evaluate the culture and values of companies when deciding where to work.
Knowing this, businesses must build workplaces that their employees will love. By applying the principles of a fanocracy to corporate culture—putting the needs of employees above all else—businesses can build workplace environments people rave about. Take HubSpot for example: The company’s public Culture Code, emphasis on transparency, and trust in employees made it Glassdoor’s top place to work in 2020.
The benefits of having a culture of fandom go beyond internet awards. More people will apply to your business on their own, reducing recruiting costs and widening the talent pool to hire from. Veteran employees will be fulfilled and satisfied, reducing turnover and improving the interactions between employees and customers.
2. Building a distinctive brand.
With buyers more educated than ever, businesses must find new ways to stand out. To make things even more difficult, there are practically endless options for buyers to choose from. It’s not enough for businesses to focus solely on products and services in their marketing. They must build distinctive brands that customers choose over all other options.
Fandom helps businesses market to what customers are most passionate about. Simon Sinek says the best businesses are those that know their “why”—their main purpose for doing what they do. Keeping this in mind, a fanocracy is a business that knows why it exists as well as why its customers buy in the first place.
By focusing on what their fans love, businesses can build a distinctive brand.
Look at Hagerty Insurance. Finding what their customers love—classic car events and information—Hagerty creates entertaining and in-depth content on all things vintage cars and provides resources for navigating car auctions.
Hagerty is not just another car insurance company; it’s a thought leader, entertainer and passionate fan of classic car culture.
Seth Godin defines the value of a brand best: “the sum total of how much extra people will pay, or how often they choose, the expectations, memories, stories and relationships of one brand over the alternatives.” A fan-worthy brand can only help your business in the long run.
3. Gaining customer loyalty.
Focusing on what customers love helps customers build distinctive brands; it also creates customer loyalty. Customers clearly value the interactions they have with businesses and will speak about experiences both good and bad—just look at Yelp, TripAdvisor, and G2 for proof. By building fandom around customer experiences, businesses can turn customers into loyal fans.
Take Trader Joe’s. By decorating its stores with local flair and hiring engaging and friendly employees, the grocery chain maintains a loyal following in the face of local, regional and national competition.
The little things that go into delivering an amazing customer experience go a long way in helping your business succeed. Retaining customers boosts revenue for your business by increasing the lifetime value of each customer you have.
That means you can invest your dollars on other important parts of your business instead of pouring them into ineffective marketing tactics. This applies to the local coffee shop just as much as the unicorn SaaS company. No matter what industry you’re in, fandom will pay dividends to you and your fans.
4. Helping others in need.
Sometimes, building fandom transcends improving the bottom line. Companies that embrace fanocracy put the needs of their customers above all else in the most trying of times.
Let’s look at Duracell. It has one of the most recognizable brands in its industry, yet in times of natural disaster, Duracell gives away batteries. People affected by natural disasters are in dire need of power, but Duracell batteries are often the first brand of batteries to sell out.
To solve this issue, Duracell has established the PowerForward program, in which company employees deliver tons of batteries, charging devices and internet access to those in need. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Duracell airlifted two trucks and more than 30 tons of batteries to Puerto Rico—all given away for free.
Duracell realizes that helping people in tough situations is more important than maximizing profits. The company’s devotion to the people it serves builds fandom, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed—Duracell Facebook posts about the Hurricane Maria Relief saw over 30,000 “likes,” 11,500 shares and thousands of comments.
So, why should you be building fandom for your business right now?
Glassdoor found that high employee satisfaction leads to higher customer satisfaction. Edelman found that 71% of consumers want to buy from brands they trust. PWC found that 73% of buyers find customer experience important in buying decisions.
It’s clear that people want better, more authentic experiences with the brands they buy from. The businesses that can deliver these experiences—fanocracies that put customers before anything else—will be poised to dominate the competition in any industry.
Learn how to build fandom for your organization at Ragan’s “Best Practices in Internal Communications and Culture Conference” April 21-23 in Mountain View, California.