You’ve worked so hard to get followers, subscribers, and customers … but now what? Is it possible to nurture these relationships to build an amazing tribe of loyal, excited, passionate fans?
In this post, you’ll learn it is possible, and we’re going to tell you exactly how to do it.
This post is based on our very first episode of Social Pulse Weekly, which is your one-stop shop for the latest social media news, expert analysis, trivia, and fun.
For our first episode, I was joined by Pat Flynn, host of the Smart Passive Income and Ask Pat podcasts, and author of the newly released book Superfans.
We wanted to talk to him to learn more about the whole idea of “superfans” and how these fans can help us build long-term, sustainable businesses … without having to constantly chase after new customers.
What Is a Superfan?
The idea of the superfan came to Pat when he read an article by Kevin Kelly back in 2007 called 1,000 True Fans.
The concept really inspired him not only to build a business of his own but to do it in a way that didn’t rely on building this massive, blockbuster hit.
Instead, he had this vision of people building their businesses for superfans, which he defines as “this amazing core group, a tribe of people, a community who will be there to support you without you having to have that sort of breakthrough moment. They’re going to be there to support you in your craft and your artistry.”
Defining the superfans
Superfans are the people who will drive 10 hours to see you or wait in line overnight to buy your product … before they even know what your product is. These are the people who will be on the front lines for you.
Getting 1,000 fans really isn’t an outrageous endeavor. If you can get just one fan per day, you’ll have 1K fans in fewer than three years.
If you have 1,000 true fans—and they’re supporting you in a way that you make $100/year from each of them—you have a six-figure business.
You get to build your business by focusing on creating these amazing superfan moments that move people from—for example—listening to your song once to buying backstage passes and buying bobbleheads and so on.
In terms of social media, your superfans are going to subscribe to you and follow you, and they are going to make sure they see your stuff. These core group of people are going to support you forever.
And according to Pat, the beauty of this is that those 1,000 fans will then go on to grow your brand for you. That is what Superfans is all about: the recipe and list of ingredients to develop your style for creating these magical moments.
Do We Need to Reach Everyone?
One thing I love about the concept of the superfan is that, as business owners, we often feel like we need to reach everyone. Like we need to create content for everyone so we can reach the masses with our stuff.
But the concept of the superfan is exactly the opposite of this.
Arby’s is a great example of a company that has a core group of people the company wants to appeal to. They found their kind of “geek/nerd” people and decided to create content for them. Their stuff is creative and fun, and, sure, they’re going to lose some people because of the route they’ve chosen to take.
But in the end, they’re probably going to gain many more valuable ones.
Pat believes superfans make for much better ambassadors:
“Your superfans are going to do a much better job of selling your company or your product, or of touting your business because they are users, customers, [and] they love you. And they’ll say the same words that a person would respond to.”
Flip Your Sales Funnel Upside Down
So, how does the idea of the superfan fit with the traditional sales funnel? You know the one where we drive traffic to the top of the funnel through SEO, ads, etc., and then filter down until they become a customer?
Here’s the problem with that traditional funnel: We tend to stop when we get to the customer stage of the funnel.
(Here’s an example of a Facebook sales funnel, in case you need a refresher.)
Instead, the key, according to Pat, is to completely rethink your funnel:
“Where you can get repeat customers and those incredible ambassadors for your brand is [when] you flip this funnel upside down and you work toward moving people up to superfans.”
The Pyramid of Fandom
This inverted funnel is what Pat calls the Pyramid of Fandom:
You start by bringing new people into your funnel. They hardly know you or what you have to offer. These are your casual audience members.
Then you have to upgrade them to active audience members by getting them to become active subscribers or maybe even buy from you. They know you, but they aren’t yet part of the next, smaller tier: the community.
One they’ve reached the connected stage, they are part of your community. This community isn’t just about you talking to people but about those people talking to one another. This cultivates more brand awareness and brings more authority to your brand.
This is the stage where people often start calling themselves something related to your brand (like Taylor Swift’s “Swifties”).
And finally, it’s from the connected stage that some of your superfans will naturally emerge. Now, you can really focus on creating those amazing moments for your audience and nurturing those relationships with people who will become your biggest supporters for the long haul.
The Power of the Superfan
According to Pat, having superfans is the best way to build a truly long-term, sustainable business.
You’ve probably already discovered that getting leads from your social media efforts can be challenging. In fact, according to a recent report, only 7% of marketers are extremely satisfied with their social lead generation efforts.
However, if you have superfans, everything else kind of falls into place. When you have fans, your email list will grow. Your social media will grow. Your bottom line will increase.
After all, these superfans aren’t necessarily just fans of your product or your company. They’re fans of how your product or company makes them feel and of the results they get.
Your biggest fan
Pat shared how this whole idea was inspired before his brand even existed. His first online business was an architectural website meant to help people pass an exam. A few months in, he got an email from a woman named Jackie. They emailed back and forth a few times, as she had been studying for the exam for the past year but had kept failing.
After finding Pat’s website, she finally passed the exam. She emailed him to say thank you and to offer to take him out for dinner. She was just so grateful … and she signed her email, “Your biggest fan, Jackie.”
At the time, Pat didn’t think much of it. He figured he was just this guy online and had just helped her pass an exam. No biggie, right?
But a couple of months later he noticed something pretty amazing: “[T]here were 25 new customers that came in from the same firm that she was at … She had convinced every single person in the office to go and buy my guide to support them in passing this exam.”
She could have just shared the guide with everyone she knew. But she wanted to pay him back because she was just so thankful and because she was a fan.
And because of Jackie, eventually, the company required new employees to buy his guide when they joined the company. Amazing!
One of the ways Pat suggests cultivating these relationships is to focus on making people feel special.
As Chris Ducker says, you’ve got to build your business like Bob the Baker does. When you go into Bob’s bakery, it’s, “Hey Jim, How are you? How did your son’s soccer game go last weekend?” He knows you and makes you feel special just for coming in. So when a big grocery store opens up down the road, that customer is still going to make the trek to Bob’s because they have that relationship.
How to Move People from Customers to Superfans
Pat sees business owners put a lot of focus on traffic, subscribers, customers, etc., and that’s it. For those business owners, becoming a customer is the endpoint.
In Pat’s opinion, however, that’s just the beginning.
So many amazing things can happen after that person has become a customer.
One strategy you can use to cultivate this kind of relationship with your fans is to create and send personalized video messages. The next time a customer follows you on social media or buys something from you, create a quick video message and send it to them via direct message. No other agenda. Just thank you for being a customer.
According to Pat, you’ll see a number of benefits from using these personalized videos:
“Number one, your refund rates will go down. Number two, they’re going to be blown away. Number three, you’ve just given them a moment that is unlike any other product experience that they’ve had.”
Pat uses a tool called Bonjoro to create these videos. It connects with your Shopify, PayPal, Stripe, etc., and whenever you get a customer, the app will notify you. You simply swipe your notification, and the video screen opens up so you can send a personalized thank you message.
Apart from just being a fun and awesome thing to do, Pat says there are real advantages to doing this, such as lower refund rates and giving that customer an experience they probably haven’t had before from a company.
It’s such a little thing that can have such a big impact!
Other strategies are outlined in the book, but here’s another one of Pat’s favorites: providing a small, quick win.
Years back when Pat was still an architect, he came across a website called I Will Teach You to Be Rich (you’ve probably heard of it).
He was a bit put off by the name but came across a blog post that everyone was talking about … and he was intrigued. It provided a script you could supposedly read off to your cable company to immediately save 20%.
So, during lunch one day, he decided to call. He read the script, and he was literally able to save 20% on his cable bill in about 10 minutes.
It just blew him away. That quick win really got him, and he quickly subscribed, and then did a deep dive into the rest of the content on the site.
That’s why in Pat’s brand, you’ll see lots of quick wins.
You want to change people’s lives, right? Start with changing their day. Start small to go big.
This is how you get people coming back, and how you get casual audience members to stick around, subscribe, and dig deeper.
Here’s another strategy Pat talks about in detail in the book … Say you have an active audience member who’s not yet part of the community. They don’t really feel like they belong yet.
You want people to find others who they identify with, who are like them. And the best way to do this to share success stories you’ve created in your community. This is by far the best and easiest way to get authentic testimonials and to provide content that will make people want to be part of the community.
Know who the hero of your story is
If you follow Donald Miller and StoryBrand, you’ll recognize this is essentially all the same stuff. You are not the hero of the story. Your brand is not the hero. Your product isn’t even the hero!
You’re just the tool, the guide. You’re the Yoda. Your customer is the Luke Skywalker.
You’re creating those hero-like stories. Highlight them and share them. Stories resonate with people more than anything else. Stories are what gets passed down.
In fact, just to illustrate this … One of Pat’s most popular interviews ever was with an ordinary Kentucky couple who quit their day jobs and became multimillionaires as a result of listening to Pat’s podcast. That episode got more downloads than his interviews with Gary Vaynerchuk and Tim Ferriss combined.
People love stories, especially about people who they can relate to. Share your community’s success stories, and you’ll be amazed at how you organically create and nurture a pool of loyal, dedicated superfans.
Learn More About Getting Superfans for Your Business
Be sure to grab Pat’s book, which shows you how to find and build your tribe. It walks you through the process of building a business plan specifically geared toward that tribe. And the great part is it isn’t just a book. It comes with worksheets between each chapter. So once you’re done the book, you’ve completed your business plan. (And on top of that, it comes with a free downloadable course!)
If you prefer listening to your books or just don’t have time to read, the audio version of Superfans is also now available.
Social Pulse Weekly: Pat Flynn
Watch the entire video to hear more about Pat’s thoughts and tips regarding turning customers into superfans:
Do you know how to find and grow your SUPERFANS? We kicked off the first episode of 'Social Pulse Weekly' with best selling author and podcaster, Pat Flynn discussing his new book "Superfans: The Easy Way to Stand Out, Grow Your Tribe and a Successful Business" to give you the tips and tricks you need to future-proof your business!
Posted by Agorapulse on Friday, August 30, 2019
Social Pulse Weekly brings you incredible marketing experts and today’s latest social media news and developments. Tune in every Friday at 2PM ET to keep your finger on the pulse of social media.
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