There are customers and then there are fanatical customers.
The fanatical customers are those who will ultimately determine how successful your business is. Those are the customers who define, talk about, and recommend your brand.
Those are the customers who, collectively, will form a “tribe” around your business.
Billy Bones, writing about “The Power of the Tribe” in the music industry, eloquently stated:
Tribes collectively take the leap from liking music to defining themselves by their relationship to the music. It’s the difference between “I listen to this” and “I AM this.”
This is fairly common in the music industry, what with “Beleibers” (as fans of Justin Beiber label themselves) and people traveling across the country following their favorite bands.
You can also see this phenomenon with sports where it’s far more common to hear, “I AM a Denver Broncos fan!” rather than “I go to Broncos games.”
And if you’ve ever been to a high-intensity sporting event, you’ve likely experienced the camaraderie between strangers high-fiving and identifying with each other over little more than wearing the same team’s shirt.
Those are genuinely strong tribes of fanatics.
The question is: how do you create fanatical customers?
Convince Customers They’re Exceptional
Even outside music and sports, tribes made up of fanatics are a dominant force. Consider the common example of Apple — people don’t simply buy Apple products; they define themselves as being Apple users and members of an exclusive group.
Apple has done an exceptional job of using marketing to convince Apple customers they’re different (read: superior) compared to people who use other brands’ products. Everyone remembers the Mac vs. PC marketing campaign that Apple used to rally their customers against a common “enemy”.
And, of course, there was the iconic commercial of 1984 (below) that painted PC users as brainwashed drones needing to be freed by Apple.
What Apple has done extremely well is used personal comparisons rather than product comparisons.
Instead of talking about how their products have better features or more stability, Apple focuses on explaining why people who use Apple products are better than people who use competitors’ products.
Big shocker: people love being told they’re special and they love being members of exclusive groups.
Provide a Place for Fanatical Customers to Connect
Marketers today are consistently going on and on about how consumers want to connect with companies via social media, but there’s probably more to that story.
In the words of marketing genius, Seth Godin:
What people really want is the ability to connect to each other, not to companies.
The beauty of marketing today is the ability to drive customers to specific areas online where they can mingle and connect with each other. It’s only happy coincidence that customers are open to your company’s involvement in the midst of their bonding.
In that sense, it’s wise to consider yourself only a part of the discussion, rather than the leader of the discussion.
A great way to connect customers with each other is to provide exclusive areas on your website exactly for that purpose.
For example, Oracle hosts a members-only Customer Connect portal, an exclusive area for customers to “share experiences, highlight opportunities, and celebrate successes with one another.”
Other companies could host exclusive events for their most loyal clients and customers.
Imagine this: every time a customer got their oil changed at a local auto mechanic shop, they received a mark on a loyalty card. After getting three marks on the loyalty card, customers would be invited to an exclusive seminar that helped them get the most out of their vehicle — learning about sticking to maintenance schedules, good driving habits that reduce wear-and-tear, symptoms signaling that you need specific types of maintenance, and so on.
This would not only build loyalty to the business, but would also place multiple customers in one room together where they could connect. Meanwhile, your brand would be the centerpiece and the reason this opportunity for them to connect occurred.
Fanatical Customer Service
It comes as no surprise that consistent customer service is a driving force of creating fanatical customers who will go out and talk about your brand to friends.
Apart from the conveniences of shopping online and free shipping, there’s a reason why companies like Amazon and Zappos have obtained such great recognition among consumers — consistently amazing customer service.
- Zappos overnighted a free pair of shoes to a best man who arrived at a wedding shoeless.
- When a Playstation 3 mysteriously disappeared off a customer’s door step, Amazon shipped (for free) a new one to the customer and it arrived in time for Christmas.
These are extreme examples, but they’re signals of the quality of customer service regularly provided by Amazon and Zappos.
And outstanding customer service pays off — the best man mentioned above wrote a letter stating “Zappos has gained a customer for life”.
Fanatical customers — customers who are absolutely crazy about your business — are pure gold. They give your brand personality, they drive word-of-mouth recommendations, and they give your business a sense of purpose.
While there many factors (and a lot of luck) that goes into creating fanatical customers, you can help guide the way by making customers feel like they’re part of an exclusive group, by providing opportunities for members of that exclusive group to connect with each other, and by treating these customers to top-notch, consistent service.
Need help creating fanatical customers? Let’s chat about taking the madness out of your marketing!