Yesterday Shelby gave three cheers to our raving fans. She addressed her recognition over the last year of who her (and our) raving fans are. As you’re growing a new business, recognizing your raving fans as they come along is important. These are the folks who can propel you to the next level and send business your way. But what if you have a mature business with an existing client and prospect list? How do you find the raving fans that might be staring you in the eye on a daily basis?
Case Study: Find the raving fan in the haystack
My other business ColorMetrix has been around for 17 years and in that time has built up a nice customer and prospect database. I’ve heard the “raving fans” buzz phrase tossed around over the last few years and wondered if it was just that: a buzz phrase. It occurred to me that I am a raving fan for a couple of brands and even a restaurant or two. I gave some thought to how those folks treat me and it’s darn nice. One of the restaurants, which does not take reservations, always seems to have a table for me when I need it. The brands in question have done things like send me hand-written thank you notes, stickers and t-shirts.
In short, they’ve taken the time to recognize that I go out of my way to talk about them in the social space, on my blog and in face-to-face conversations. But – and here’s the hard part – how did they decide I was a raving fan worthy of a different level of treatment? In each case, I know how the relationship started. The restaurant or brand provided an at least average product bundled with an exceptional level of service. That caused me to utilize all my communications channels to speak positively about the brand.
Here’s where it gets tricky: Almost every brand then did what you’d expect. They thanked me and engaged with me in the social space or elsewhere. Only a few, however, did what I am now learning to do. They tagged me somewhere as a “raving fan.” Your raving fans are different. It’s that simple. They are not a dime a dozen and they need to be treated differently than your average customers if you want them to do amazing things for you. By amazing, I’m talking about sending business your way. That could either be hiring you themselves or, equally important, recommending you to others.
Back to my ColorMetrix story and our mature list of customers and prospects: How could I start tagging my raving fans? As I prepared a rather long email explaining new features that are about to be released in one of our products lines, I realized I had an opportunity. At the end of the email I offered a chance to win a $25 Starbucks gift card. I added a paragraph asking if you read this far then please reply with “I read to the end” and I’ll enter you to win one of several gift cards.
About two percent of the list took the the time to reply. It wasn’t an astounding response rate; but wasn’t bad in terms of absolute numbers. Also, most replied with more than the “I read to the end.” In fact, I’ve developed several of those responses into sales leads that should lead to an additional couple of months of business for us this year. That’s right. People I had taken out of the followup sales process were still reading my emails; all of them and all the way to the bottom.
Tag ‘em while you can
Each of those people who took the time to respond is now tagged in our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) as a raving fan. Our plan is to start doing things like communicating with them before the rest of the list when we have big news to report. Most folks like to have the “breaking news” before everyone else. It makes you feel special. Plus, they can spread the word in their networks before the information is released to a our wider audience.
Thank ‘em and reward ‘em
As time allows we’ll do things like send them ColorMetrix stickers inside hand written thank you notes, just like we did for our recently identified SheHe Media raving fans. When I see one of them call at 5:15 p.m. on a Friday, I’ll answer the phone and see how I can help them. It’s really about access. You’ve shown us you care and now it’s our job to return the favor to the best of our ability.
Your turn: Who are your raving fans and how did you find them?