How to Develop Customer Evangelists
Alex Goldfayn’s new book is called Evangelist Marketing: What Apple Amazon and Netflix Understand About Their Customers (That Your Company Probably Doesn’t). He is CEO of the Evangelist Marketing Institute, a marketing consultancy with clients that include T-Mobile, TiVo, and Logitech. Follow him @alexgoldfayn.
When you have evangelists for your product or service, you have the best possible kind of customer. Your evangelists are passionate, loyal, and thrilled to recommend you. They are communicators — when it matters. They are your public defenders when times are difficult. Evangelists are also forgiving. They assume your mistakes are honest. They believe you have their best interests at heart. Best of all, evangelists are hyper-repeat customers.
If you agree with the above then you’ll probably agree with the following. No matter what business you are in – large or small, product or service, public or private – you should be doing everything humanly possible to develop these kinds of customers.
With a critical mass of evangelists, you can succeed in unimaginable ways. Companies like Apple and Amazon are proof of this. Netflix also enjoys evangelists (Remember how evangelists are forgiving? If they weren’t, Netflix would be out of business). So, if you want to develop the kind of evangelists that stick by your side through thick and thin, here are three critical steps.
First, you must develop deep insights about your buyers. This is the single most important activity you can undertake to create powerful marketing. Start by conducting qualitative interviews with your customers, prospective customers, and even your competitions’ customers. You want to know what they think, what they want, and how they use your product or service.
This activity is so critical because your most effective messaging comes from your market. If you do this right, your will gather language that you know resonates strongly with your customers because it comes from your customers.
Sure, Steve Jobs famously said it’s not the customers’ job to know what they want. He could say that because he had an unparalleled instinct about what customers want. Everybody else — us included — needs to be talking to customers, asking them strategic questions to uncover the most effective messaging.
Amazon enjoys uncommon access to customers’ feedback via its consumer reviews. And Netflix certainly has received its share of customer feedback over the last year. To the company’s credit, it has actually listened when it abandoned its terrible idea of spinning off Qwikster. However, the company could have avoided every one of its mistakes over the past year by simply talking to its customers. That Netflix was surprised by the consumer outcry that followed its actions is nothing short of negligence. There is no excuse for not knowing exactly how customers will react to something you are about to do. To find out, all you have to do is ask.
Emotional Marketing Language
Once you have customer insights, you use them to develop simple, emotional, lifestyle-oriented marketing language. No matter what you do, you are in the life-improvement business. If your work is in the business-to-business space, your language must focus on how you improve the condition of your clients. Not technical specifications. Not features. Just simple, salient statements.
For example, you do not make Airplay wireless speakers, rather, you bring beautiful music into people’s homes and hearts without wires.
You are not a social media marketer. You make your clients’ dreams come true by dramatically increasing their sales.
You are not in the cloud business. You protect the precious, priceless memories of people’s lives.
This may sound like basic marketing 101, but take a look around. Is any technology company besides Apple and Amazon talking like this? Even public relations agencies and social media outlets, which are in the business of helping clients connect with customers in effective ways, tend to tout their process and technique.
Here’s the bottom line: most customers don’t care about the steps you take to improve their life. All they want know is how you’ll improve it. So, tell them!
Finally, you must communicate this effective messaging on the proper platforms. Here is a list of good ones and forgotten ones:
- 1. A long list of your customers. Names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses.
- 2. A long list of your competitions’ customers. If you have good lists you can communicate directly with that market.
- 3. Powerful relationships with earned media resources: bloggers, writers, editors, producers, etc.
- 4. Social media.
- 5. Your product package. It’s generally an overlooked opportunity to communicate to potential customers how you can improve their lives.
- 6. Your product manual is generally useless. Product manuals should be filled with success stories: how various features and uses of your product or service has improved the lives of real people.
There are many more, but the above list is a good place to start. Once you develop evangelists, you must work hard to simply maintain them. In fact, you must continue to innovate your products and your marketing just to maintain your position of success. Need proof? Research in Motion used to have evangelists. So did Best Buy.
If you stop aggressively doing the things that made you successful, the world will pass you by in three seconds. It’s not difficult to create evangelists — you simply have to do the work that most businesses do not do: gather qualitative insights from your market; use simple, emotional language; and communicate it from the right platforms. Do that, and your competition will be an easy crowd to stand out among.