Customers are great to have, but as Ken Blanchard points out in his book Raving Fans, "If you really want to 'own' a customer, if you want a booming business, you have to go beyond satisfied customers and create Raving Fans." In the globally-connected, social media world of today, raving fans are a tremendous asset.
The Internet, mobile technology and social media combine to create a fast, easy, global reach for your ravings fans as they rave about your products or services. And they do so in ways that traditional marketing can’t touch! There’s nothing like delighted customers promoting your products and services to potential prospects and turning them into actual customers.
But you can do more.
In their book Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson say that you can create a secret weapon by building an audience.
The advantage to having an audience is that an audience comes to you. Not once, but often. It returns on its own to see what you have to say. This is different than spending more on advertising or even the free advertising and referrals generated by raving fans.
It’s about being a resource and pointing people to useful and related information. Create content and share your knowledge frequently, freely and willingly. As Ann Handley, C.C. Chapman and David Meerman Scott tell us in Content Rules, “Done right, the content you create will position your company not as just a seller of stuff, but as a reliable source of information.” This will build what social media strategy consultant Jay Baer calls an information annuity.
This is because online content is searchable indefinitely. Your company will be the one others turn to for advice, and since they trust your advice, they will be more inclined to buy your products or services. But there are rules to the game. Save the sales pitch for traditional advertising. Provide useful information, but don’t push products or services. As a resource for your audience, you will find that they will continually return to see what have to say.
To create content and reach as wide an audience as possible Jay Baer advises to “get more bait in the water.” By this he means shredding those white papers into “…an array of info snacks that you can sprinkle across the Web.” Put another way: create smaller pieces of content from one larger source by repacking and reimagining it.
And speaking of imagining: Imagine your company having both raving fans and an audience. How much easier would this be on your advertising and sales efforts? How difficult would this be on your competition?