What are the benefits of loyal customers? What do loyal customers contribute to your success?
Patt Flynn calls the most loyal customers “superfans” and says they’re people so passionately devoted to a brand that they have made it part of their identity. In his book Superfans, he reveals the four benefits of having these loyal customers.
Continue reading to learn more about loyal customer benefits.
Loyal Customers and Their Benefits
Superfans travel miles for live events, buy closets full of merchandise, follow every new online update, and participate in a community of like-minded enthusiasts.
When most people think of superfans, they imagine a fan of a TV show, a celebrity, or a band. Flynn points out that companies—such as Apple, LEGO, and Harley-Davidson—have superfans, too. In fact, he argues that superfans are your company’s greatest asset. Flynn asserts that the fierce loyalty of just 100 fans can be your brand’s biggest asset. He gives four main loyal customer benefits: ensuring company longevity, acting as brand ambassadors, standing up for your brand, and contributing valuable feedback.
(Shortform note: In understanding why people become so attached to brands, it’s important to recognize that consumers don’t simply buy products they want to use—they buy products that express their identities. Many of the brands with loyal superfans have succeeded in associating their product with an image or lifestyle. Fans of Harley-Davidson associate the brand with individual freedom and an outlaw biker aesthetic. Apple fans associate their brand with creativity and innovation. Researchers have even found that consumer preferences in America are now splitting along political divides, with Republicans and Democrats even wearing different brands of jeans.)
Benefit #1: Superfans Ensure Your Company’s Longevity
A superfan will not just buy your products once, they will do so year after year, even when products flop or recessions drive fair-weather customers away. By maintaining a core of devoted followers, you will protect your revenue against the typical ups and downs of the business cycle. Therefore, an investment in superfans is an investment in your company’s longevity.
Benefit #2: Superfans Are Your Greatest Brand Ambassadors
Superfans won’t just buy your products or services; they will gush about your brand to friends and family. This authentic and enthusiastic advocacy has the power to bring in new customers—ones who might not have heard of your brand otherwise or wouldn’t have trusted your business on advertising alone.
Benefit #3: Superfans Will Stand Up for Your Brand
Superfans often protect their favorite brands. You can count on them to defend your company’s public image from outside critics and detractors who insult your product or question your business decisions. In the social media and chat channels where your online fan base gathers, superfans will also push back against people posting harmful or provocative content. This will maintain your brand’s positive image and keep the online spaces where your fandom gathers welcoming to prospective fans.
Benefit #4: Superfans Deliver Valuable Feedback
The people who care most about your brand are often the first to bring you authentic feedback. They participate more readily in feedback surveys and engage with your social media, and they are more likely to bring problems to your attention since they care about the brand. As we’ll explore in greater detail later, they may also someday join the company and become your best employees, since they are already devoted to your company’s mission.
Are There Any Drawbacks to Long-term Customers?
Flynn focuses on the four loyal customer benefits. However, business experts point out there are pros and cons to this approach. While it’s unlikely that superfans will harm your company, you still need to be strategic about how much effort you put into cultivating a brand community, and knowing the cons can help you make that decision.
Here are four cons of developing long-term customers.
1. Flynn notes that long-term customers can improve your company’s longevity. However, make sure they’re not making it harder for your company to change with the times. Your most loyal customers may expect your products and services to remain the same over the years, even if it’s no longer best for your business.
2. While long-term customers will spread the word about your company, this can also backfire if your superfans turn on the company. The sense of betrayal could lead them to attack your company’s reputation and spread the word about company missteps as well.
3. Even though superfans may be protective of your brand, it takes much longer to cultivate devoted long-term fans. Therefore any strategies designed to build this fan base may have delayed benefits, making it difficult to assess their effectiveness.
4. Flynn argues that long-term returning customers deliver valuable feedback. However, it’s important not to over-rely on their feedback. If you just listen to your long-term customers, you may start treating new customers as less important, and have a harder time growing your customer base as you fall out of touch with new customers’ needs.
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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Pat Flynn's "Superfans" at Shortform.
Here's what you'll find in our full Superfans summary:
- How to turn ordinary customers into passionate, lifelong fans
- The importance of creating a product or service with value
- Why you should make fans feel like they're a part of your company