How do you build customer loyalty? What strategies can help you cultivate a base of superfans?
In Superfans, Patt Flynn provides five strategies for building customer loyalty. These strategies include creating value, providing a personal connection, fostering community, creating memorable experiences, and involving your fans in the company.
Let’s dive into how to build customer loyalty with these five strategies.
Strategy #1: Create Value
Flynn argues that the first thing you must do to learn how to build customer loyalty is to offer them genuine value through your product or service. No matter how good your marketing or social media presence is, no one will be drawn to your company unless they first like what you are selling. Flynn offers four methods for creating value for your fans: solving real problems, aligning your business with fans’ long-term goals, and providing fast results.
Strategy #2: Provide a Personal Connection
Flynn asserts that your fans will also have a positive experience with your brand if they feel a sense of personal connection. This includes feeling like the company and its staff understand them, want them to feel welcome, and even want to get to know them as people. When people feel like their relationship with a brand is more like a person-to-person relationship and less like a strictly business relationship, they will be more willing to come back to the brand for more positive experiences. This creates opportunities for positive emotional experiences that will help them ascend the levels of fandom. Flynn provides four strategies for creating a personal connection with your fans: learning their language, sharing authentically, reciprocating when people reach out, and getting to know your regulars.
(Shortform note: While it might be surprising that Flynn suggests a relationship with a brand can feel like a personal relationship, this is actually quite common. Psychologists have even given this phenomenon a name: a parasocial relationship. This is when one party invests time, effort, and emotion into the relationship, while the other party is scarcely aware of the other’s existence. People typically enter into parasocial relationships with celebrities, social media influencers, or content creators. However, parasocial relationships have become much more widespread as social media has made it easier for people to follow others online, and many companies have learned how to leverage the potential of these relationships for their brands.)
Strategy #3: Foster Community
In addition to forming personal connections with your fans, Flynn argues that you should work to help your fans form personal connections with each other—by building a vibrant fan community. In fact, he argues that the connections your fans form with each other may actually be more important than the ones they form with the brand.
Communities create positive experiences with your brand because they give people a sense of belonging. They also provide social stimulation and the opportunity to create meaningful relationships based on their shared interest in the brand. Your fan community will also draw customers into deeper and more sustained engagement with the brand as people are naturally drawn to thriving, vibrant communities. Flynn offers two strategies for building communities: coordinating a live event and giving your fan base a name.
(Shortform note: Flynn argues that a thriving community is essential to building a base of engaged superfans. However, business experts caution you to focus on creating communities that first and foremost fulfill the needs of their members. They argue that many failed efforts to build communities around brands start from the premise that creating a strong brand will draw in a community. This leads companies to treat community building as an exercise in marketing, rather than placing the needs of community members at the center of the business strategy.)
Strategy #4: Create Memorable Experiences
Flynn also argues that you can instill positive emotions in your fans by creating memorable experiences. When your fans have fond memories of engaging with a brand, their time and energy invested in the brand will feel more meaningful. This creates a strong incentive to continue investing in your brand and accumulating experiences that propel them up the levels of fandom. Flynn recommends three methods for creating meaningful and memorable experiences: breaking up the routine, giving fans a challenge, and offering exclusive perks.
(Shortform note: Consumer behavior experts explain just what makes an experience memorable. People remember experiences not because they were satisfying or pleasant, but because they stand out as emotional peaks against ordinary emotional experiences. Emotional peaks are moments of extreme emotion beyond what people can experience on an average day. They can be positive or negative, but to create a positive experience you want to focus on moments of extreme excitement or delight. Some researchers call this “the wow effect.”)
Strategy #5: Get Your Fans Involved
Flynn explains that fans will become much more attached to your brand if they feel like they are somehow part of the company, that is, they identify with the company and feel a sense of personal ownership. This motivates them to continue investing emotionally and financially in your brand. Flynn offers four methods for making your fans part of the company: letting fans make decisions, giving them a look behind the scenes, sharing the spotlight, and hiring your superfans.