Think Like a Rockstar

I recently attended the Social Media Integration Conference held at Kennesaw State University, and it was such a treat to hear all the talented professionals share their insights. One of my favorite and most applicable seminars was Mack Collier's "Think Like a Rockstar." I love this perspective on the company/customer relationships, and these key takeaways can be applied to any industry.

We learned in the seminar that rockstars are perfect models when it comes to connecting with your customer, and they can teach us a lot about how to interact with fans and communities. So this begs the question: Why do rockstars have fans and companies have customers? Here are the four points Mack gave us to answer that question:

1. Rockstars are fans themselves

Most companies become so focused on internal processes, bottom lines, etc. they find themselves disconnected from their customers. Rockstars, on the other hand, focus on forming sustainable relationships with their fans, and they share a genuine passion for the same thing their fans do: their music!

A great example of passion reflected through a brand is Kimpton and the importance they place on fun. That focus on fun comes through in their latest Facebook campaign that features their employees wearing the signature animal print Kimpton robes in different places all over the U.S. The Facebook followers have to guess where each picture was taken, so it's a really unique and brand-relevant way of connecting with their fans.

2. Rockstars look for ways to shift control to fans while companies are hesitant to release any control to consumers

While most companies are scared to death of giving their customers any type of input into their promotional efforts, many rockstars view their fans as marketing partners, and willingly embrace their efforts to help promote the artists that they love.

Carnival cruise line does a Carnival's Labs website that is strictly devoted to users' ideas and perspectives. You can suggest any kind of topic to discuss, and they even allow all kinds of suggestions to improve the fan's cruise ship experience. It is a great example of a company interacting with their advocates while increasing brand awareness and incorporating fun at the same time!

3. Rockstars find the "bigger idea"

Instead of trying to promote your products and services directly, think about how your customers use your products, and what they are trying to accomplish.

For example, if you are in the hospitality industry, don’t devote the posts on your Facebook or blog exclusively to your hotels/restaurants; instead, create relevant and intriguing posts for your consumers. Examples: travel tips, wine and food pairings, recipes from the restaurants, etc. By focusing on the "bigger idea" behind your products, you'll create content that's far more valuable and engaging to your audience.

4. Rockstars embrace their advocates/fans

As you can see in this graph, the biggest difference between companies and rockstars is that companies are focused on acquiring new customers, while rockstars are focused on connecting with their advocates. The problem is, new customers have little to no brand loyalty toward that company, and it costs 6-7 times more than simply retaining an existing customer. Brand Advocates are by far the smallest group, but they also have the highest levels of brand loyalty. Most importantly, advocates spend 13% more than the average customer and refer business equal to 45% of the money they spend.

Lady GaGa is a great example of a rockstar who embraces her advocates. She cultivated a following and makes them feel special and appreciated by doing things like:

Branding her fans (genius!) - they're called "little monsters" and she even came up with a hand sign they can identify themselves with

Performing small, random acts of kindness like ordering pizza for all the fans sleeping outside Best Buy in NYC the night before an appearance she is making

Tattooing "Little Monsters" on her arm and Tweeting out to all her fans about it

In travel and hospitality, look no further than Sir Richard Branson - he has created a laid back and transparent brand image that his customers have grown to love and trust. Branson hires only people he trusts, and he talks with a smile. He advises other companies to do the same and always respond to your advocates. Whichever communication method you prefer, the dialogue should be a two way conversation. Great advice!

As a closing thought, we were left with this quote from Steve Knox of P&G, "Victory in marketing doesn't happen when you sell something, but when you cultivate advocates for your brand."