Stop Marketing & Start Loving Your Fans for Loyalty

Wendy Kelly
Dec 04, 2015

Welcome to 2016, the year marketing dies and liking the s*** out of people wins.

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In Which Wendy Kelly has an existential meltdown right before Christmas...

Just kidding.

Loyalty Marketing

BuzzSumo just shared this incredible post about viralilty. We shared it. Peg Fitzpatrick shared it. I saw it on my LinkedIn feed several times. Finally, I read it.

What Gets Shared:

  • Outliers 
  • Incredible, Amazing News
  • Trends
  • Inspiring Things
  • Stunning Things
  • Controversy!
  • Humor!
  • Warnings!
  • Secrets
  • Cuteness

Etc. Okay. So we can conclude that, no promises here, but - if you write something earth shattering, include a trend, tweak your reader, get picked up and shared by a few hugely influential people, you may - no promises - get some virility.

And then what? Fame, fortune? No. You'll just sit back in front of your monitor the next week and try again.

Then I read a cute post at AdWeek about the new KitKat advertisement. It's - get this - nothing. Thirty seconds of nothing. Let that sink in...both for those of you who would be in a position to collect the fees for that creativity and for those of you who may be in a position to pay someone for that.

Emperor's New Clothes, anyone?

Finally, and I should note here that I am a little in love with this person, I read Ian Lurie's blog over on Portent. And what was he blogging about?

Survivorship bias. 

That blog post changed everything for me. We're approaching the end of 2015 and my thoughts are geared 100% to assessing what worked and what didn't over the past 12 months. 

The best case scenario would be if I could simply lay out a list of the 7 (prime numbers seem to work best for list posts) things that work.

Unfortunately, apparently, I'm not that bright. I have been pouring over what has worked in content marketing over the last year, and, honestly, at this point I'm chalking it up to fairy dust and unicorn tears.

Maybe some rainbow particles?

In any case, I just don't know. Ian Lurie mentions a book by Nassim Taleb (who I could listen to all day long) called "Fooled by Randomness". The blurb on Amazon says, in part,

"If the prescriptions for getting rich that are outlined in books such as The Millionaire Next Door and  Rich Dad Poor Dad are successful enough to make the books bestsellers, then one must ask, Why aren't there more millionaires? In  Fooled by Randomness, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a professional trader and mathematics professor, examines what randomness means in business and in life and why human beings are so prone to mistake dumb luck for consummate skill."

Mistaking dumb luck for consummate skill truly is the sandbox in which many marketers seem to flourish. And don't get me started on social media mavens.

The thing is, the only time data is actually useful is in extremely simple situations. Sometimes, we can artificially create simple enough situations so that we can sort of draw conclusions.

In "real" life, though, there's too much going on. How in the world do we know if someone is really going to click through that headline, read that blog post, be drawn in by the call to action, and buy your thing?

So should we just give up?

Hint: This is a Digital Marketing Blog...

No. No we should not. Yes, yes there are things we can do, strategies we can take, and marketing that works. 

We need to be aware of the randomness, aware of the hype, aware of the fact that we want to believe things are understandable and all you need is a cheat sheet and a check list and you'll be fine.

But at the end of the day, good marketing works. Not every blog post headline gets shared (even when they score over 50% on the Advanced Marketing Institute's EMV) not every call to action is going to work every time. Not everyone is going to buy a KitKat just because you blast them with 30 seconds of nothing. Seriously?

What Works Now, and Why

Thank you for reading this far. Really, I mean it. I need you to understand the level of hype that is out there, the insecurity (yours and mine) that fuels it, and where that leaves us. You want a list of 7 things you can do to get more customers using content marketing (or what have you.) You probably want to "go viral" which really means that you want to be popular. You want people to buy your stuff. 

Of course. Now, slow down and think about the last cat video you shared. What site was it from? how loyal do you feel to that site/brand? Are you going to buy stuff from them? Donate to them? 

I honestly can't remember the last cat video I shared, but I do remember the last pygmy goat video I watched (and forced the fam to watch, too) I remember the goats were in pyjamas. I don't remember the site. I don't have any idea about anything other than the goats. They made me happy. That's all.

So, maybe you're different, but I'm guessing we're all about the same. Viral stuff is important if you are a publication like the New York Times and readership is your thing. You publish something that everyone loves and you win. Of course, if you are the New York Times and you "win" with a pygmy goat video you may need to rethink your branding, but I digress. 

If you are a brand that is selling something - rooms in Whistler, cupcakes, cat collars or coffee, you don't necessarily want traditional marketing at all. 

Alexander Jutkowitz said something over at the Harvard Business Journal that really resonated with me:

A marketer's thundering from the top of a mountain like the voice of God will be quickly spotted for what it is - a disconnected jumble of hollow words bouncing along the canyon walls. Building loyalty is much harder work, and it requires not only valuing customers, but  liking  them enough to have a conversation every day.

The subject of the article he wrote was loyalty. What resonated for me, though, was the idea of liking your customer. The word loyalty just hangs there, dangling a bit. 

Like...No, Love Your Customer

Loyalty has the kind of zing to it that some words do. Like enchantment, or engagement. They're great, buzzy words. But the word that sticks with me from that above quote is the word liking.

You like your customer enough to have a conversation with them every day.

You build a relationship built on mutual liking that makes you want to make things for them and them want to visit you, buy things from you and tell all their friends about you. 

Tell all their friends about your brand. 

So, I'm just going to take a stab in the dark here. 2016 will be the year of relationship marketing. Liking your customer enough to share with them, have a conversation with them, listen to them.

Liking your customer enough to respect them, create things for them that they will love, and liking them in such a way that they will rave about you to their friends. And you won't be all viral all over the place, but you will end up with loyalty and engagement with a dose of enchantment thrown in, too.

Catch the Zeitgeist

I don't actually know how to prove this to you. I do know that there is a zeitgeist around this: Unmarketing, Chief Loyalty Officers, everything Guy Kawasaki does. 

A great example of this sort of thing is the recent initiative by Chipotle. A customer, Jonathan Saffran Foer, curates authors to publish snippets of gorgeous prose on the bags and cups. Everyone is a bit happier. Friendly feelings grow. People want to talk about and share the goodness of chipotle.

Chipotle Loyalty Marketing

Ian lurie wants us to ask, "Why, really did this work?" whenever we use a marketing tactic. In the case of simply using the fact that you like and respect your customer as a base for all future marketing decisions, I can tell you right now why that would work.

It works for the very same reason that people still read and pass along the (fairly dorky) wisdom of Dale Carnegie to this day. In fact, I just noticed that the folks over at Buffer love "How to Win Friends and Influence People". No doubt. If you authentically like and listen to someone, you not only spread just a little more goodness around, you (both) win.

You sell more stuff, you feel awesome, and you make people happy. Welcome to 2016, the year marketing dies and liking the s*** out of people wins. 

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