What would it feel like if your business didn’t have just customers, but fans? And what do brands like Nike or Starbucks do to build long-term, powerful relationships with their audiences? Famed business strategist and marketing speaker David Meerman Scott answers these questions in this exclusive #ZeroBounceInterview.
The author of “Fanocracy: How to Turn Fans into Customers and Customers into Fans” – now a Wall Street Journal best-seller – also shares:
- the “secret” to great email marketing
- a winning strategy for communicating during the COVID-19 pandemic
- the best business advice he’s ever heard
- and the one thing that helps him be a better marketer.
What is “fanocracy” and why do marketers and business owners need to learn how to build it?
A fan is someone who is passionate about something in their life, whether that be a sport, art, a hobby, a TV show, or a book. They spend significant time and energy being involved with that activity or piece of media because they enjoy it. Parts of their identities are often tied to these things they love. Fans also find friendship with other like-minded people who enjoy the same things they do.
In a digital world where our lives are increasingly cluttered and superficial, we’re missing something tremendously powerful: genuine human connection.
People are going to be most invested in that which creates a sense of intimacy, warmth, and shared meaning in a world that would otherwise relegate them to a statistic.
This is what creating a fanocracy is all about.
How can brands encourage such powerful connections with their audiences?
There are many ways to foster meaningful connection, but the central idea is always putting the customer – the fan – first.
It isn’t about the products and the services, but the people and the community.
The ways to make community at the center of your business include getting closer to your fans through in-person or digital proximity, building trust through open communication, and listening to what your fans have to say.
Do everything you can to make the relationship less of that of a cold company and a client, but an exchange of ideas between equal individuals.
You wrote “Fanocracy” with your daughter Reiko – what surprised you the most during this experience?
The spark of the idea for “Fanocracy” came in a conversation I had with my daughter about fandom about five years ago. We both had the same ideas about how important the things we love are to our lives!
It was surprising that we found that even if we were from different generations and had very different life experiences, we had the same feelings regarding fandom in our lives.
At first, more than five years ago, we started out as father-daughter – a hierarchical relationship. But we realized that wouldn’t work so we quickly had to become true partners. She needed to tell me when my writing was bad! (And she did).
What brands are you a fan of right now, and why?
Grain Surfboards is a wooden surfboard maker that invites customers into its workshop, where it reveals the secrets of its proprietary process. I’ve built two boards with Grain.
MeUndies is an underwear startup that’s “empowering people to live a life of boldness.” (Yes, underwear.) I’ve been a subscriber for several years.
HeadCount is a nonprofit that works closely with musicians to encourage their fans to register and vote.
Duracell, the battery company, wins loyalty through an initiative called PowerForward – giving away its products during natural disasters, instead of exploiting victims.
For companies that aren’t sure how to communicate during the pandemic: what would you advise them?
The pendulum has swung too far in the direction of superficial online communications at a time when people are hungry for true human connection.
Be kind and generous. Offer ideas, information, or product with absolutely no expectation of anything in return.
What is the one email marketing tip you can’t stop sharing?
Many people steeped in the tradition of product promotion naturally feel drawn to prattle on and on about their products and services. But I have news for you. Nobody cares about your products and services – except you. Yes, you read that right.
What people do care about are themselves and how you can solve their problems. People also like to be entertained and to share in something remarkable.
In order to have people talk about you and your ideas, you must resist the urge to hype your products and services.
Instead, create something interesting that will be talked about. When you get people talking, people will line up to learn more and to buy what you have to offer.
What do you most like to do when you don’t have to do anything?
Inside: reading books in print format.
Wait, there’s more! David Meerman Scott recommends three great books
A great but overlooked marketing tactic:
Newsjacking – the art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story to generate tons of media coverage, get sales leads, and grow business.
The best things marketers can learn from journalists:
Tell a great story!
Three books everyone in marketing and PR should read:
“How Music Works by David Byrne”, “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” by John Carreyrou and “The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company” by Robert Iger.
None are marketing or PR books but all should be fascinating for marketers and PR people.
A brand email you always open:
Your favorite place to work:
At my beach house.
The one thing you do every day that helps you be a better marketer:
The best piece of business advice you’ve ever heard:
My father told me as I was graduating from university to learn how to speak in public.
Have you read “Fanocracy”?
David Meerman Scott is an internationally acclaimed marketing and business strategist. He wrote 10 books, including “The New Rules of Marketing and PR,” which sold more than 400,000 copies and has been translated in 29 languages.
In January 2020, together with his daughter Reiko, David Meerman Scott launched “Fanocracy: How to Turn Fans into Customers and Customers into Fans.” Praised by marketing powerhouses such as Ann Handley, Seth Godin or Sally Hogshead, the book is “a bold guide to converting customer passion into marketing power.”
Learn more about David Meerman Scott