1000 true fans

Brand | Stop Caring What Everyone Thinks

The Lurking Theme

I love it when there are themes that emerge over and over again within a short period of time. There are several themes that have been lurking about lately in this brain of mine; that’s probably because it’s been an extra thought-provoking few days. Here’s one for consideration.

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I am working my way through Scaling Up by Vern Harnish, and on Saturday evening, I was pouring my way through the strategy section where I saw a quick plug for Frances Frei and Anne Morriss’ book Uncommon Service: How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business. Novel concept, right?

Finding Your Crazies

I haven’t read the book, but there was a short summary of the main point I want to highlight. Here’s the heart of it: really excellent brands don’t spend time trying to please everybody. In fact, they don’t even spend time trying to please the majority of people. Great brands focus on the people who are just head over heels in love with them. The fanatics. The crazies. The people who maybe even see the brand as part of their own identity. The famous 1,000 true fans. The core buyer personas.

It might sound easy, but there’s something truly nerve-racking about not working to please as many people as possible. If you’ve ever been in a position where your potential audience is giant, and you have to start narrowing down your message until it begins to sound terribly exclusionary, you know what I mean. It’s scary. It’s so scary, in fact, that a lot of brands are afraid to do it.

Yesterday, at our company offsite, we heard a couple of brilliant talks from Peter van Stolk, the former CEO and Founder of Jones Soda, and he reinforced in such a timely way for me. Jones Soda had a very particular audience, and he said they had to learn to not care about what everyone wanted or thought. They had to actually do things that may have even made certain groups of people angry. They had to focus on the fanatics and the audience that truly loved them. For them, that meant personalized photos and sponsored tattoos and skater-centric messaging, because those were their people, even though anybody could theoretically enjoy a soda. Pleasing their core audience was critical to their success. If they had tried to please everybody, they would have wound up pleasing nobody. But by pleasing their true fans, they created and nurtured a cult following.

Guts and Stuff

The reality is if a brand truly wants to stand out from their competitors, they have to have the guts to choose to not care what most people think. That ominous-looking black cloud in the sky right now might look scary, but it’s the exact thing you need to water those seedlings in your garden.

So, find your people. Love them. Talk to them. Keep them happy. Earn their loyalty, and turn them into brand ambassadors. And stop giving a crap about what everyone else thinks.

Any other tips out there for interacting with and engaging your core audience?