How to Make the Most of Your Tribe
Behind every great brand is a community of loyal customers. You cannot grow your business if you don’t retain your customers. Acquiring a new customer is anywhere between five to 25 times more expensive than keeping hold of one. That doesn’t include the bonus of a happy customer referring you to their friends.
One of the best ways to measure growth is through something called the K-factor. This describes the growth rate and virality of (traditionally) websites. But we can apply it to your brand as well.
Why it’s important
Virality is sharing. People sharing stuff that they love. If your customers love your brand then they will talk about you to other people. You just need to build a strong referral network where everyone adds at least one other and your brand’s exposure will dramatically increase. Instead of investing time and resources in a lot of marketing, you can let your network do the heavy lifting.
McKinsey has found that word of mouth can generate more than twice the sales of paid advertising. Simply put, people prefer to hear of new products and services through someone telling them about it, than seeing it on a billboard or banner ad.
Cut the noise
No wonder. We’re bombarded with 10,000 marketing messages a day. Brands need to stand out amongst the noise of a crowded marketplace. Plus, thanks to the current global economy, products and services are available any time, any place, at the click of a button. You cannot rely on conventional marketing to gain the exposure that your brand needs. Instead, you need a community of supporters to speak for you. That’s half the reason why influencer marketing is so popular. It’s expected to reach over $2 billion by 2019.
But you don’t have to hire a pricey influencer to have the same impact. Many customers would be happy to promote your brand. You just have to inspire them to do so.
Loyalists vs advocates
Brand loyalists and brand advocates often get confused. They aren’t the same. Loyal customers are people who keep returning to your brand. But they might not be actively talking about your brand to other people.
On the other hand, brand advocates are people who are both loyal to your brand and proactively share stuff about it. Proactive is key here. Your advocates are almost self-sufficient. They are heavily invested in the success of your brand and will tirelessly share their experiences with it in their own networks.
It almost goes without saying, but you want to turn your brand loyalists into brand advocates.
Use your employees
Your existing customers aren’t the only brand advocates you can cultivate. Your best brand advocates can come from within. Your employees are the face of your brand. It makes sense that they express a passion for your products. In fact, 52% of consumers see employees as credible sources of information about a brand.
So how do you encourage advocacy and make the most of your tribe? Getting customers to become brand advocates requires a different technique to getting them to buy your stuff. You need to give them a reason to join your tribe.
It’s also important to remember that no tribe is stagnant. Views and trends constantly change, as do needs and wants. Eventually, your original tribe may naturally split into smaller micro-tribes. You need to predict what your tribe and the overall consumer landscape will look like in a year or a decade’s time.
One Directioners (the tribe of fans belonging to boy band One Direction) are a good example of this. Over time as the tribe has grown older, their taste in music has also changed. Listen to some of One Direction’s early tunes and it’s very different to the songs they release today.
Here are some other tips on maximising your tribe:
1. Keep focus. Don’t attempt to be everything to everyone. You’ll lose your brand message and purpose. Start by focussing on doing one thing well, for a clearly defined group of people. Keep your conversation simple and focussed. That way, you ensure that people remember your brand as the go-to company for your specific niche.
2. Tell stories. Even if you don’t see yourself as a budding Mark Twain you can still tell a convincing brand story. The key is to connect with a customer on a human level. Find what makes your brand unique and use this to create compelling content. Make sure it’s relevant to a specific audience, otherwise your story might fall on deaf ears.
3. Be yourself. People recognise authenticity. By showing people your true brand you open the door to a deep and meaningful relationship with your customers. Don’t ever be fake. People can smell a phony a mile away and it’ll undo all your hard work.
4. Make networking a team effort. Encourage your team to network. It’s just as valuable as the time they spend working for you behind a desk or on a shop floor. It gets your company name out there and can expand their reach as well. Remember, people like to hear about new things from other people. Every new connection your employees make is a potential customer.
5. Offer assistance to everyone without expecting anything in return. When was the last time you sincerely asked someone if you could lend a hand? Networking gurus often state this is a great tactic to stand out at events. Small acts of kindness soon add up. People rarely forget a favour extended to them.
Don’t force it
Pushing people towards a particular action usually results in them doing the complete opposite. Advocacy should be completely natural. People can only talk about products that make them happy. First and foremost, your focus needs to be on the quality of your products and your customer service. The rest falls into place after that.
The Kayla Itsines BBG community is almost evangelical in the weight loss technique. Search #BBG on Instagram and you’ll find millions of success stories and transformation pictures. It’s something that grew organically on social media. Thanks to influencer Kayla Itsines, and a technique that worked, people were keen to share their #fitspo online under the BBG umbrella.
When building your brand, it’s worth focussing some effort on identifying and connecting with your tribe. Make sure that you always pay it forward by connecting people in your network with others who you think will be of mutual benefit. That’s how you start to naturally build your tribe. Sometimes it pays to stop looking at your logo and target your tribe instead. That’s the most powerful marketing tool of all.
Call to action
What do you think? Have you got a tribe already or will you now build one? Let me know in the comments. As always, if you find this piece useful, please share with your friends!