From Window Shoppers to Raving Fans – How to Build a Connected Community
The content of this blog is based on a speech by Pat Flynn, Owner of Flynndustries, LLC, at the Traffic & Conversion Summit 2021.
We’re all fans of something. And we all crave a connected community. You may be obsessed with all the latest Apple products, lululemon leggings, that new Pina Colada Bailey’s or a stylish Smeg toaster. Just like we’re superfans of other people’s businesses, people can become raving fans of your business.
They pre-order your products before they’re released
They tell their friends, family and community about you
They demand your products and get upset when they’re out of stock
They wait for your announcements, sales and new releases
In a way, fans are like business insurance. The businesses that were able to step up in 2020 were the ones that had these fans.
A connected community is the future of business. We need people to rally around your business, and there’s a structure to do so.
If we flip this pyramid upside down, it looks like something we’re all familiar with – a funnel.
And here’s where the common mistake comes in – many people stop here. When someone becomes a customer, that’s not the end. That’s just the beginning of a long-term relationship that holds enormous potential. How can you take advantage of that? You need to create an experience.
Repeat customers, engagement and talking about your brand all happen at the top of the pyramid. That’s when the pyramid starts to work for itself and your brand evangelists become your marketing team.
Most lifetime customers are at the very top of this funnel. So we need to build this from the top down. In other words, create experiences that make the customers feel extra special. These raving fans aren’t created the moment they see your brand for the first time. They’re created by the moments you create for them over time. As Gary Vee says: “You need to have micro-patience and macro-hustle.”
Let’s look at different types of audiences and understand how we can move your customers through this funnel.
Imagine you’re at a conference. You’re probably having the same conversation with every person you meet:
What do you do?
Where did you go to school?
Where’s your company based?
Why do you ask all of these questions? You’re trying to find some common ground and connect. And, when you do find something in common (same industry, similar position, ties to a certain city, etc), you begin a journey towards friendship.
Businesses can do the same thing online. How? Put personality in the center of your business. It’s not B2C vs B2B, it’s P2P – person to person.
Think back to your favorite podcasts for example. Chances are, the host and the guests talk about their hobbies, fun facts from their life or their quirks. Even if it’s a business podcast, successful people with a well-though-out personal brand insert their personality into everything they do.
Here’s another important point – you need to know your customer better than anyone else. “If you can define the problem better than your target customer, they will automatically assume that you have the solution,” – Jay Abraham.
In other words, know who you’re speaking to and learn their lyrics. Speak their language. Walk in their shoes. Understand them in a way that even their family of their therapist doesn’t.
How can you do that? Talk to them about their struggles. You’ll see them starting to relate and become interested in your brand. That’s them moving along the funnel and joining the active audience.
When your audience has already shown interest, keep them engaged. Try giving them a small quick win. It has to be free! A quick useful tip, a downloadable workbook to organize their day, a short video tutorial – it can be anything.
But it has to be actually useful, interesting, educational and helpful. If you want to change a person’s life, start by changing their day first. Over time, you’ll gain so much trust that you’ll start forming a community.
This is the time to give your audience the attention that they crave. Make them feel like they matter, they’re special, and they belong.
The key here is not to just ask a question; it’s to ask questions for the answer.
Steve Spangler, for example, created Youtube videos for kids to teach them science. He would film a scientific experiment and invite his audience to comment with their assumptions as to why this reaction occurred. His comment section exploded and his channel became the most commented channel on Youtube. All because he let the audience take the spotlight.
Many brands use this strategy by asking their users to suggest a new feature, product ideas, new design and so on.
LEGO is another great example. They ask their fans to suggest new products and put the author’s name on the box if they end up using that idea. They also pay royalties to the idea author.
Here’s what you can try:
Show behind the scenes of your business
Record “day in the life” videos of various team members
Ask to vote on your new logo, branding, etc
Create Community Connection Points
These are the moments and opportunities where your audience can connect with each other. It’s your job as a facilitator to help your audience find each other. You can use events and meetups, masterminds and live videos. You can also select moderators for your groups to achieve this.
The truth is – when people hear about your products from others who don’t work for your company, they’ll trust it that much more. And then they’ll be ready to become your absolute fanatics.
At this point, once your customers get so much personalized attention, when they feel so empowered to talk about your brand, they’ll naturally gravitate towards becoming your brand ambassadors.
Even at this stage, you can do more. Create memorable moments by surprise. If you really lean into these fans, truly amazing things will start happening. Reach out to them personally, thank them, give them gifts or exclusive access to new products.
The average response rate for these personalized messages are amazingly high. Some entrepreneurs record quick personalized videos for their best customers. These fans feel like a rockstar just called them by their name.
Then, when that same entrepreneur is selling something new, that exact fan is not only the first one in line to buy it, they’re also helping promote it.
At every checkpoint in your business (a weekly meeting, a monthly check-in, a daily stand-up), ask yourself – have we earned a fan today?
When you serve your community first, you will be rewarded.
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