When a customer goes past the passive consumer stage, beyond the advocate phase (net promoter score), and into the believer stage - this is where noise is replaced with clarity.
All believers are customers but not all customers are believers - this difference is an important one.
When believers start to amass, brands have done their job; they’ve created value that extends well beyond this years P&L.
I remember it at Finisterre, people who would drive from London to Cornwall and back in a day, just to come into the first shop at HQ to try on the product in the flesh and have a chat with someone from the brand. You’d meet familiar folk at events who would pin you into a corner and talk your ear off about product x or marketing campaign y, all whilst wearing a 9 year old beaten up jacket they wear with pride. These were super fans, not just customers.
Kevin Kelly’s highly sighted essay "1000 true fans” touches on this subject beautifully - to make a living as a maker, artist, musician or entrepreneur you only need a 1000 true fans. A true fan loves what you do, they will buy anything you produce, they are the believers - so create and sell something every year which generates $100 profit from each true fan and you have yourself a nice living.
I had a recent experience of this first hand. I really like Bon Iver, they're a band that talks to me, I imagine I’ll play it when I’m old and my kids will moan about it, but I won’t care. They recently launched their 3rd album and I bought a copy of the album without even hearing it first, now I can’t remember the last time I bought an album (years) let alone not having heard it first - I’m a true fan, and lucky for them, they’ve got more than 1000.
We as humans have been connecting people and ideas for 50,000 years so this is not a new concept, we’ve merely commercialised it.
The concept of brands having modern day “Tribes” was popularised by Seth Godin - describing a tribe as a group of people connected to one another, to a leader, and to an idea (or product) in which they have faith. Godin says, “Today, marketing is about engaging with the tribe and delivering products and services with stories that spread.”
Patagonia is a great example of this - starting with rugged rugby jerseys and banged out pitons for dirtbag climbers, they’ve evolved to serve the environmentally conscious outdoorsmen and women. They've utilised their radical dirtbag leader Yvon Chouinard, their environmentally friendly products, causes and marketing stunts like “Don't Buy This Jacket” to engage with their tribe and spread their message.
So, who are your believers?
What’s the idea or product they are believing in?
Whether it’s believers, true fans or tribes - it's critically important that you identify and understand this powerful segment of customers, that your team know and understand them, and that time, energy and budgets are being channeled into nurturing and finding more of them.
Kevin Kelly mentions that for every true fan you may have 3/4 ordinary fans and this is something we’ve also observed at Who Buys Your Stuff? That’s not to say that your other customers aren’t important, they are. It's just that limited resources should be focused where they have greatest impact on growth.
WBYS? stance on believers, true fans and tribes is the practical and action orientated Lead Persona - the customer profile that represents the majority of revenue. We’re helping brands identify and understand theirs; unlocking serious growth in doing so.
To find out your Lead Persona, get in touch on 01326 352032 or email info(at)whobuysyourstuff.com