Before we can look at ways to make your brand fans love your stuff, let’s understand why customers become brand fans in the first place;
It’s all about psychology, not marketing.
So what makes brand fans?
People become brand fans because we all have an innate desire to belong. That’s it!
Think about it...
That’s why people join clubs, create support groups, become members. No matter what our personal interests are, we all want to identify with a group of people who share our same interests and values.
It goes way back in time to tribal identification, survival and following a strong leader.
Although people are no longer grouping together for survival, we still want to belong, and we still look for strong brands to follow. And just like our primal ancestors, we want to tell the world that we belong; the war-cries of millennia ago are today’s brand evangelism.
It’s about focusing on the “why?”
If you want to keep your existing brand fans and win over more, you have to focus on the “why” your brand even exists, let alone why people will want to buy into it.
That is because the “why” is what appeals to the deep-rooted emotions of group psychology.
The “why” isn’t about making profits, it’s about the contribution that your brand makes to the world. When a customer has an emotional connection with what your brand stands for, they’ll buy in and become brand fans and, more importantly, brand evangelists.
Remember, one single brand evangelist can do more for your brand than hours of content marketing that your team is able to produce. That’s because the word of an evangelist is gospel within their group; people who trust them can trust their word.
Your marketing must focus on going beyond getting customers to buy and get customers to believe.
Once you’ve achieved that, your brand fans will look forward to everything you offer with anticipation, and most likely share their excitement.
This might require a rethink...
If you’re not already appealing to your customers’ primal need to belong, here are 7 ways to win and nurture brand love:
1. Who already loves your brand?
Identify repeat customers and reciprocate the love with rewards. But not just any rewards. Look a little closer, get a little more personal insight and make your offering relevant to their preferences (gleaned from your data) and tiered to the nature of your brand relationship. Are they loyal, consistent brand fans or bold brand evangelists regularly spreading the love on social media? Maybe they’re on the cusp? Scale rewards accordingly.
Everybody deserves a thank you email or sms. But add a relevant, personal discount voucher for fans, along with an invitation to share, share, share (make sure your social media icons are right there, under their nose). Then make a full-on free exclusive offer for Facebook brand evangelists. It’s an equal, but different kind of love with a very satisfying air of exclusivity and belonging.
2. What do customers love about your brand?
Ask customers what they love about your brand after every purchase or contact. Encourage them to reply and collate the information. What does your brand offer that similar brands don’t? You’re likely to get more and better feedback directly from customers experiencing a brand moment than you’ll get in a month of focus groups or high level surveys. This is very important information because it gives your brand ongoing direction. You may be surprised to learn that you’ve been rewarding for all the wrong reasons and not rewarding what really matters to individual customers. Love can be mysterious in that way.
3. Offer specials and giveaways
Everyone loves getting free stuff. That’s just a reality of human psychology. Freebies appeal to the reward centre in our brains and it really doesn’t take a grand, extravagant gift to get the pleasure circuits firing. This is where micro-rewards do a fine job of reciprocating brand love. They’re not big or particularly expensive, but they’re meaningful to individuals. A free-music download, a new e-book, an e-magazine subscription, are examples of simple offerings with high perceived value. And they’re often digital, which means they come with the surprise and delight value of instant redemption and cost effective delivery. Give freebies readily, and encourage customers to share their freebies online. You can also make the online share part of the freebie reward, which makes the whole experience that much more special and memorable.
4. Create a buzz
Post interesting stuff on social media and put it in content marketing. Be informative, expansive and generous with information about your product, industry and related events. Get your brand fans to share, interact and chat. People are always looking for useful, information online and offline, so build a reputation as a transparent, reliable, go-to source for industry insight. If you are only posting your sales pitch, very few will be interested and some may even get irritated. Contribute and add value, and be rewarded with many shares, replies and expressions of brand love.
5. Delight your brand fans
Part of the need to belong is the need to be acknowledged and accepted into a group. Interact actively with your brand fans on all social media platforms, and in your content marketing. ‘Like’ comments, reply where necessary, and get active in conversations. Make your brand fans feel appreciated. Recognition is a powerful reward in and of itself. It stimulates the same pleasure circuits in the brain as any tangible reward and heightens the impact of the rewards experience, which further strengthens the brand bond. Thank people loudly and publicly at every occasion - it’s a must and your brand fans will love it.
6. It’s more about giving if you want to get
Freebies, public acknowledgement, and reward programs – this is what will keep your brand fans coming back, and get new ones rolling in. Yes, giving comes at a cost, but you can’t put a price on customer loyalty, raving evangelists, and repeat business, so consider loyalty rewards a business investment. The objective of giving rewards is to build deep, loyal relationships over the long-term. Transactional, do this-get that one night stands won’t get you there. You need to engage in regular dialogue and easy, everyday give-and-take expressions of genuine care and interest. Make giving something back an everyday thing and you will reap the rewards in the long run.
7. Keep measuring your success
Never assume that you’ve struck gold with a strategy. Consumers evolve all the time, and your competitors are keeping their eyes peeled on all the changes as they happen. Do the same! Keep your approach fresh and unique. Watch global trends and pick up on what’s going down before the competition does. Your brand fans will love it! Our primal instincts include a desire to be the best and to follow a strong leader.
If this has you thinking, make your first port-of-call relooking at your “why” and re-write your purpose and mission as well as all your content marketing.
Become a giver, not a taker.
Take the time to listen to your existing brand fans and give them more of the rewards they want. Watch your existing fans cheer you on as they evangelise your value and contribution. Acknowledge them and show your love for them on social media and anywhere else.
Then sit back and watch the love for your stuff just grow and grow …
About Emma-Jane Shaw
Emma-Jane Shaw is the Chief Content Strategist for a digital marketing agency based in Cape Town, where she fuels her passion for writing, strategy and social media.