Fact No 4: You want fans
The myth goes… You must constantly develop a customer base, maintain a customer base, leverage a customer base.
The fact is, you don’t want customers. The fact is, customers are fickle. The fact is, customers want a good deal, a cheap price, an ironclad guarantee, and a cash-back-reward-card. The fact is, customers buy from you. That’s it. They come in. They buy. They leave. The fact is, there’s no synergy there.
The new reality is, you want relationships, you want connections, you want people on your wavelength. The fact is, you want fans. The other, crucial, fact is, very few businesses get this point. Which means, if you develop a fan-base, you’ll be head-of-the-class, top-of-the pile—numero uno (OK, so that last one, idiomatically, doesn’t really fit. But hey, it was kinda late, when I wrote it).
Now then. You want fans? That’s great! Not sure how to get ‘em? Well, here’s the recipe. Start by paraphrasing the first 3 facts in this series.
Fact 1) It’s what think—not what you do—that gets you fans
Fact 2) Remember that you can do it—you can get fans
Fact 3) To get fans—you must divert your attention from the maximization of income
Next, mix in these two final ingredients;
1) Do what you love: If you’re a foodie, why are you selling real estate? If you’re a writer, why are you working in accounting? If you’re an entrepreneur, why are teaching? If you’re a leader, why are you following?
I read, somewhere, we’re all born with a gift, a purpose—a calling. I think you know what I mean. There are things that come naturally to each of us—a flair for creative design, a knack at a trade, a proficiency in… stuff. And yet, how many of us turn our collective backs on that natural talent, that inherent genius? Only to pursue other avenues—perhaps because someone advised us there’s more money in that. If that sounds familiar, remember fact 3, and then return to your true love (hmm wasn’t that used in a Dylan song?).
2) Be who you are: Be authentic. Flaunt your passion. Enthuse in your unbridled enthusiasm. Why? Because fervour and passion are contagious. Because what’s contagious is catchy. It’s catching, and it’s catching on. People talk. A buzz builds. And you get fans.
One last thing though. Are you rock or jazz? Country, classical or rap? Remember, people like what they like. Rock bands don’t do classical. And you shouldn’t be what you’re not. If you try, your authenticity evaporates, your music diminishes to noise—just one more phoney, contrived voice in a sea of corporate bafflegab. And people notice—their BS detectors pinging their alerts—and people walk away. Or become, at best, disaffected customers. And you don’t want that.
Case study: Regular readers will know of my affinity for Apple. MacBook, iTunes, iPod, and, soon, iPad. I’m a fan and so are millions of others.
Here are two Steve Jobs quotes that nail the Apple zeitgeist. From a CNN interview; “…It’s not about convincing people that they want something they don’t. We figure out what we want…”
And from cnet; “We’ve seen great success by focusing on certain segments of the market and not trying to be everything to everybody, and you can expect us to stick with that winning strategy.”
Yet, I’m also a fan of other businesses, Scrivener, for example. Or have a look at what makes Yvan Chouinard tick (he’s the brains behind Patagonia). Read his book, Let my People go Surfing. See if you don’t become a fan.
More importantly, if you are a fan of a business (or a product) please tell me. I’d love to hear about it. Please leave a comment.
More on this: This blog has a number of references to fans, here are just two of those posts: You don’t want customers and How to get fans. But maybe my first piece, which I wrote in 2005, is still the best one. You can find it here or here.
Tomorrow: Retirement is a myth
Yesterday: It’s not about the money
Ideas? Suggestions? Comments? Please leave a comment.