All Businesses Need "1000 True Fans"

The other day I wrote an article about why the concept of cultivating 1000 True Fans involves: 1) Knowing who your audience is (in other words really understanding their "buyer personas," and 2) Adding lots of value to that core group of people.

Today I want to talk about how applicable this strategy is for all businesses, regardless of size or industry.

Tim Ferris, said that the original piece about 1000 True Fans, written by Kevin Kelly, was really the only article on marketing anyone needs to read. I completely agree. As a concept, it applies to small and large businesses, individual professionals, non-profit organizations and even causes and ideas.

Originally, Kelly thought of the 1000 True Fans idea as being specifically for artists, musicians, bands, crafts people, performers, video makers and others who created and sold artistic works.

As he presented it, such a creator only needs 1000 people who will consistently spend about a day's income per year (approximately $100) to support him or herself. This core of 1000 are not the only customers,in fact you can count on the fact that this group will help spread the word and bring in more customers along the way.

So not only are these 1000 True Fans regular buyers, they are also word of mouth marketers for the creator. They are the evangelists we all long for who will help spread our message to others.

But 1000 True Fans has taken on a life of its own as others have grabbed onto the idea and seen that it has application for their work as well. Non artists have adopted the concept and prospered from the strategy.

But it begins with creating content.

Let's face it, most businesses are not likely to attract fans on our own. Unless we sell a product that is truly sexy, like an iPad, Corvette or Gina Alexander Handbags, we need to add something else to the mix.

My friend Bill Hurlbut sells insurance. Now maybe he thinks insurance is sexy (with Bill you never know, he is after all a Republican). But for the rest of us, insurance is one of those things we have to buy but would rather not have to think about it all that much.

But Bill has fans. He has built his fan base upon the ideas and information he willingly shares about things other than insurance. He blogs, sends out a newsletter and speaks about business building tips and ideas. If you are a small business owner (his target market) you will likely become his fan because he shares ideas that can help you succeed and become more profitable.

And oh, by the way, you may even buy insurance from him rather than someone else when you have a need for it. The reason is he stays in touch and unselfishly helps you achieve your own goal of growing your business.

And he creates good, valuable, helpful content. The information he shares has made Bill what I call a "micro celebrity" among small business people in this community.

But what if you work for a very big business? Won't you need more than 1000 fans?

Yes and no. You will surely need more than 1000 loyal customers to stay in business. But remember we are talking about true fans here. We are talking about rabid, excited people who not only buy from you regularly, but who also tell others about you.

These are people who consume your content and share it with others.

If you have 1000 people who are active on Twitter, Facebook or other social media communities, who tweet about you. blog about you, Digg you or post videos about you; that 1000 can create a tsunami of good will.

Central Market is a very high-end grocery store chain here in the Dallas/Fort Worth are where I live. They sell wonderful food you can find no place else. You can buy a complete gourmet meal at their deli counter (although I think of it as more a food court than a mere deli counter). Shopping there is an experience, not just an item to be crossed off your to-do list.

But Central Market has more than customers, they have fans.

And they have fans because, not only do they sell a great product, they also create content and events.

They have a blog called More Please and a newsletter called eFoodie that give die hard foodies a steady stream of information about great recipes and nutritional knowledge.

Some Central Market stores also book bands to play out on their patio, which creates a family event for people to buy ready-made meals from the deli/food court and sit out to enjoy the music.

They have lots of regular classes for budding chefs like me who want to learn to cook gourmet meals.

Of course they are also on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Central Market attracts fans, not just customers, because they create content in the form of their recipes, newsletter, blog and classes. They also create events like the outdoor concerts and classes.

And guess what, all this cultivates fans who Tweet about them or write blog posts about them like I am doing now.

Imagine how effective just 1000 positive blog posts about Central Market (or any other corporation) would be? If each of these bloggers also tweeted about their article, there would inevitably be a large number of retweets, spreading the message virally to a lot more than 1000 people.

The point is that any business, anyone with a message or a unique product can get a lot more mileage from focusing on a few rather than on mass marketing to everyone.

After all, would you rather have fans or customers?

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COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
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Are You Delivering Value to Your 1000 True Fans?

I just read Tim Ferris' latest post, about public speaking and went off on a mental rabbit trail when he reminded me of Kevin Kelly's famous article on 1000 True Fans.

Tim's comment on 1000 True Fans is that it is the only marketing article one really needs to read. I don't disagree.

The 1000 True Fan concept began with an eye for the marketing challenges facing artists, musicians,performers, authors, etc. But it also has applications for bloggers, podcasters, and anyone who creates and sells content.

Here's what Ken Kelly has to say about it:
A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author - in other words, anyone producing works of art - needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can't wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.

In other words, when casting your marketing net, particularly if you are marketing with social media, don't try to cast your net wide. Cast it deep. (I may have stretched that "casting your net" metaphor a little too far, but you get the point).

Marketing to millions is incredibly hard, but pleasing 1000 people is very doable. And, as Kelly says, "Pleasing a True Fan is pleasurable, and invigorating." Having a highly targeted fan base is rewarding in many ways. It keeps you focused and motivated. Plus it is just plain fun.

I talked about a similar approach a few months back when I wrote How To Build Your Social Media "Farm," a case study of how a very successful real estate agent I once knew built her business (with applications for those using social media as a marketing tool).

The value of focusing on a core group of True Followers on social media is that they help you cultivate your concentric circles of lesser fans. In a sense, they do your marketing for you. They are your evangelists.

And believe me, if you have 1000 die hard followers, friends, or fans out there spreading the word about who you are and what you do, your impact will be felt far and wide.

If you don't have your 1000 True Fans yet, think about who they are. A good start would be to develop what David Meerman Scott calls "Buyer Personas."

Developing Buyer Personas is much more than demographics. It is an understanding of your ideal buyer's wants and needs, problems, likes and dislikes, etc. What this does for you is that it helps you avoid what Adele Revella calls "Messaging to No One In Particular."

Here's a quote from Adele:
So I offer this recommendation to both product management and marketing. Stop arguing about who owns messaging -- the reason this is so hard is neither of you really knows the people you're trying to influence. You guys need to listen to your target buyers -- not just customers, and not the people who are in the sales pipeline, but the people who should respond to your marketing programs and haven't yet. These folks will tell you what matters most to them. Identify where your capabilities are closely aligned with the buyers' needs, then feed their own words back to them and they'll want to take the next step in the sales process.

If you listen carefully and consistently, you'll begin to notice that different types of buyers have different priorities. Not to worry -- you should develop different messaging for each type of persona and now you know which words to use.

OK, so once you know WHO will make up your targeted 1000, how do you reach them?

The great thing about focusing on a few, rather than the many, is that these people tend to cluster in groups. You can find them huddled together in various online and offline communities like Facebook groups, MeetUps, business networking groups, Twitter groups, etc. When your product and your message lines up with the right personas, you can make significant inroads into these groups and befriend them.

The secret is to add value. Add lots of value specifically designed for these people. If you are delivering content that solves their problems (many groups are defined by the problem they want to solve), become a resource for them.

For example, if the content you produce is about health, fitness and weight loss; don't just deliver your own content or content that makes you money. If your list of people receive links to articles and videos that help them solve their defining problems, they will love you all the more. Look for free things you can send their way, even if it is just a lot of links to great information online.

The point of all this is that social media is a great tool for delivering value to a small, focused group of people. Social media can help you find these people, build trust and credibility with them, and most of all develop true fans (aka "friends") from among them.

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COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
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Workshop: 57 Web Traffic Strategies

A number of people have asked me to repeat my workshop on "57 Strategies to Attract More Visitors to Your Website" and so I have scheduled a small workshop for April 22. The workshop will be at the BB&T Bank on 1201 Church Street, Colleyville, TX 76034, from 1pm to 4pm.

The workshop will be informative and hands on, teaching you how to get a lot more of visitors to your site, and how to target the right kind of visitors. You will learn 57 unique and effective strategies to boost the traffic you get to your site.

Includes Traffic Strategies Workbook

Plus, at the end of this workshop, you will leave with a completed traffic workbook to help you build a dominant online presence with your site. This workbook will be your game plan, filled with actionable steps you can take to position your site at the top of your niche or field.

The material begins with basic keyword research strategies, introducing you to many innovative ways to find keywords that you can easily dominate.

Here's what else you will learn:
  • Learn how to use tools like Search Engine Optimization, pay-per-click advertising, Twitter and email marketing to drive buyers to your site.
  • Get front-page placement on Google, Yahoo, AOL, Bing, and over 100 other search engines - for searchers in your targeted zip codes.
  • People who look for your business online are proven to be much more likely to buy than any other type of prospect.
  • Studies show that 63% of your potential customers go online to gather information before physically visiting a brick and mortar business.
  • Geo-targeting technology: For most businesses, it serves no purpose to appear outside specific geographic areas. Geo-targeting software allows your site to be found by local customers in zip codes of your choosing.

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COPYRIGHT © 2010, Charles Brown
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