Many successful companies have figured out how to put their customers at the top of their priority list. And although almost any company will tell you that’s the case with them, most of them are lying.

I’m talking about companies like Harley-Davidson, who recognized a number of years ago that they needed a new strategy. They had hordes of die-hard fans, customers who would forever be loyal to the brand. But the company was not being loyal to them.

A strategic shift put customers front and center, creating a worldwide community around the brand that helped them turn the business around.

Not all brands are Harley-Davidson, but that doesn’t mean the customer community can’t work for you. Cultivating a brand-enhancing community like Harley-Davidson can be the ticket to increased loyalty, word of mouth marketing, goodwill, press coverage, and more.

To do it requires a fundamental shift in the way your business operates – from who makes decisions and how, to the company organization, technologies, processes, etc. Putting the company first, in practice, is about making them the stars.

First, figure out who your biggest fans are. And find out why they love you. Your goal is to make them happier, and use the tools and products you have that make them happy to grow their ranks.

You can do this with online communities, special offers and exclusive content, meetings and events. You become their advocates, as much as they become yours. Give them the tools to connect with one another and get more out of your offerings.

When you thrill your fans, you turn them into champions for your brand. And when you connect them with one another, you create a movement that can redefine your business.

Do you have what it takes to make this strategic shift?