The Holy Grail of Ecommerce Success: Creating Lifelong Brand Fans
When you think of a “fan”, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Sports or music, right? We’ve all seen the insanity behind a true, raving fan. These are the people that stand in line for hours in the pouring rain to get into a show or the 4 crazy friends who paint their chest and go shirtless to a football game in sub-freezing temps.
Speaking of miserable weather, I spent some time living in upstate New York, near Buffalo. And if you know anything about Buffalo, for most Buffaloneans the Bills are the reason for living and the reason you might want to end it all – depending on the Sunday. The team was not very good at that time and it snowed about 9 months out of the year, yet Bills fans show up for every game. Sometimes even shirtless, like this guy.
This ridiculous passion for the Bills defies all logic. Think about it – there’s no rational benefit to yelling until you lose your voice or risking hypothermia for the sake of team spirit. And even if the team wins, what do you get in return? It’s not pride of a job well-done because (hate to break it to you) you didn’t even play in the game! It’s just irrational fandom… and people love it.
It’s not much different for bands and music artists. A few years back, I went to see U2 on their 360 Tour in Atlanta and ended up in the inner circle, right in front of Bono’s mic stand. The entire show, two men in their 60s wearing collared shirts soaked through with sweat and slacks sang at the top of their lungs for every song. They sang so loudly that at one point they disrupted Bono and he stopped the entire song. All of this was after standing in line for several hours to hold that position. Again, what tangible benefit do they get from this? None! But on some level we all understand it, and we all love it.
With these examples in mind, we can all agree that fans are die-hard ambassadors, people that will do irrational things to support what they love because of their emotional connection to it. The key here is the emotional connection. In fact, research shows that people take the most action based on emotion, not on logic and rational thought. In fact, some research even suggests the action oriented part of our brain doesn’t even understand language at all. Its primary language is emotion – feeling. So this begs the question: What power would we wield if we could apply this principle to our businesses – our brands? What if we could establish authentic emotional connections and create energetic, loyal RAVING brand fans?
This has the potential for massive success. If you can address your customers’ emotions, they’re more likely to take action. As Simon Sinek explains in his book “Start With Why”, businesses succeed when they frame their products around why the brand exists in the first place – its story – and not around the features and benefits. Customers are much more likely to take action based on your “why” than just based on your product.
If we could build brand fans based on this connection, not only would we have loyal followers, we would also have lifelong spokespersons for our businesses. People will rave about what they love, and if you had fans raving about your products in a way that defies all logic, who wouldn’t be interested in buying from you?
There is no better way to acquire new customers. Fans are contagious. As a brand, you have an incredible opportunity to get more than just a customer who purchases one time. You can create a raving fan for life!
So, What Are Some Brands That Have Created Raving Fans? Here are a few:
- Apple: Love ‘em or hate ‘em… we’ve all heard of the Apple fan-boys and fan-girls. They wait in line overnight, buy every new product, and stick up for any mistake. It’s the source of Apple’s success, and it was completely intentional. The result? Apple is the most valuable company in the world.
- Tommy John: You may never have heard of them but this underwear company has revolutionized underwear for men. They’ve made it comfortable, and by doing so have created loyalists for life.
- Chick-fil-A: Who would’ve thought a fast food restaurant could create fans around a piece of chicken. This is a great example of how the product does not matter when creating fans. Now of course it needs to be great, but the fan-making happens through the story and the interactions with the brand. The result? Chick-fil-A has been the top ranked fast food chain for the last 4 years, is America’s favorite restaurant chain, and is packing out drive throughs across the country. Oh – and they’re also the world’s most profitable food chain (not just fast food).
- Groove Life: This little giant has created a cult around living an adventure and their main product? A silicone ring. Were they the first silicone ring company? Nope. Are they the cheapest? Absolutely not, in fact they have what is probably the most expensive silicone ring on the market. But they have created a raving fan culture and it has propelled their brand to hitting over 8-figures in just 3 years. (Yes they happen to be one of our many client success stories)
So clearly, creating a brand with raving fans makes for a profitable and successful business.
How to Create Fans of Your Brand
The first thing to keep in mind when building your base of brand fans is that this takes commitment to the process. Doing this takes time and consistency, so keep in mind that it’s not a short profit play, but a long-term investment in your business.
In our experience of growing some of the top fan-worthy brands, there are 6 main areas that you should focus on.
1. Create a logical connection
Starting with the basics, you need an excellent product that delivers 10x its value and 10x your brand promise. You need to check the box of logic in the customer’s mind. Make a great brand promise and overdeliver on that. Go above and beyond the customer’s expectations. Then, you must take it a step further and create a great offer with urgency. If your customers see an amazing product at a great price that will only be around for a short time, they will feel compelled to take action.
2. Establish an emotional connection
As you know, people don’t buy facts they buy emotions. Share the story behind the brand in a way that your customers can connect with. There is a reason behind why you created your product, so tell your story! Whatever you do, make it relatable and authentic if you want to establish a genuine connection. Once you have your brand story dialed in, you can tell it in many ways. Create written content, interesting videos, take action in the community, be a great place to work, and more. Weave it throughout the entire experience.
As you’re working on this, be sure to make the customer the hero— not you. Say enough to orient customers with your brand, and then make the story about their life and how it will be better because of your product.
3. Deliver major value
You’ve made a promise that compelled your customers to purchase, so deliver on that. And then deliver even more by finding additional ways to add value. Even after completing their order, a customer may be skeptical because they have yet to see if the product will actually fulfill and meet their expectations. It’s time for the promises you’ve made on your site and in your ads to prove true. Why not go above and beyond for them?
Make sure delivery is on time, customer service is excellent, and if there are any issues along the way, be transparent about them. Then in the future, build on that by finding other ways to add value to the customer experience through support, offers exclusive to fans, tips on using their product to the fullest, and (again) honesty when things go wrong. When things don’t go well, humble transparency builds trust. Our client, Groove Life, has a great example of this on their blog.
4. Follow through with your customers
Your fulfillment and customer service teams are crucial. Time and time again, great customer service experiences are where fans are born. Create amazing unboxing experiences to get customers even more excited about your product’s arrival on their doorstep. Implement surprise and delight through your returns process and your warranty. Any problems that arise are your greatest opportunity to create loyalty, so use those times for good and not for “gotchas”.
5. Keep building the relationship – indoctrinate
So the customer loves the purchase. Now what? Keep your relationship going by staying in touch with them without constantly asking for more purchases. Send valuable content emails to teach or help customers, to inspire them, or just to make them laugh. This will help you stay at the top of their mind. Make them feel part of your movement.
Remember the crazy sports fans? Sports have a predictable schedule, so it’s easy for fans to look forward to them. Your brand should have similar predictable touchpoints.
6. Give them room to rave
This may be the most important piece of the puzzle if you want your fan base to grow. Social proof is huge, so give your customers places to talk about your brand! Ask them to write a review, post a selfie video showing off the product, refer their friends, or forward emails with discounts. You’ve done all the work to build a remarkable band, and this is where it bears fruit. Make these opportunities easy, incentivizing with special offers where it makes sense and asking early on in their journey as a happy customer.
Creating a brand that is fan-worthy is not easy and then turning your customers into raving fans is also not easy, but it’s the best way to create a massively successful company.