There's been a conventional school of thought that tells marketers to go after new potential customers. Track them down, inundate them with reasons to buy your product and push media spend against this objective is the only way to grow. However, there's another approach that involves a different methodology altogether: focusing on what you've got, including your employees. If you focus on making your fans your superfans then your brand will flourish in a way that feels organic and is genuinely sustainable.

La Croix, the famed sparkling water brand took this approach to enviable success. Through Instagram, they noticed they had some fans: students and writers who were likely to stay up all night, drinking La Croix and studying or writing late into the night. They sent their existing fans cases of free product, which quickly converted them into raving fans, keen to tell their friends all about the wonder of La Croix. Such word of mouth marketing is more powerful and potent than any influencer post. And best of all, it's replicable and sustainable. Here are 5 tips for getting your strategy right. Here's how to get it right.

1. Find Your Fans

It starts by honing in on who your superfans are. Follow them on social media, find what they're posting, befriend them and invite them into your brand. Notice how they are interacting with your brand and be ready to pivot your marketing strategy towards that. For example, Yelp noticed their superfans deemed themselves to be food critics, so started treating them accordingly. They even call them 'Yelp Elites'.   Many brands give their superfans an affectionate handle, like Zipcar's Zipsters or the Grateful Dead's Deadheads.

2. Invite Them To Participate

Friendships are built on trust. That means sparking a dialogue and involving your fans in decisions. This can go deeper than offering freebies, you can ask them about your product pipeline, packaging ideas or even what other ideas they might have for your brand. Make it clear how they can and should engage with your brand.

3. Own Your Mistakes

When you make a mistake (and if you're committed to fearless marketing, you will), don't hide it. Own it, apologize for it and, just like a friend, ask for a second chance. This can be in the form of a public acknowledgement on social media or a letter to your fans. Naked Wines do a brilliant job of this with the email they send to fans who unsubscribe. They use language like 'Where did we go wrong?' 'We're guessing it was us' and when they ask for feedback, the request is "Give it to us straight'. The verbiage feels intimate, friendly and unlike the usual 'your feedback is important to us', it actually motivates you to respond.

4. Give Them Exclusive Access

Like most friendships, things get better the more time you spend together. If someone is spending great amounts of time with your brand, reward them for it. Again, this can go beyond freebies; think about giving them insider access to things that are normally off limits. This could be an exclusive event, or even inviting them to see your work in action. Beverage company Innocent Smoothies invite 6 superfans to their annual AGM (A Grown-Up Meeting) where the upcoming product pipeline is reviewed.

5. Shine The Spotlight

While extrinsic rewards, like freebies, are important, intrinsic ones are just as meaningful. This means saying thank you to your fans, publicly acknowledging what they mean to you and heroing your fans who are doing an exemplary job of upholding and espousing your community. Tribute them with a profile on your social media, publicly acknowledge them on your blog or send them a personalized note from your team.

Published on: Feb 23, 2018
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