Online marketing and social media tips for business from Shannon Belew, best-selling author of "Starting an Online Business For Dummies, All-in-One"
Do you have a business that people love to talk about? If so, are you doing everything you can to transition that excitement into unexpected sales? In the first of this two-part series, take a look at how passionate customers can translate to revenue bumps – all in the name of brand love.
First, let’s define brand love. In its most extreme state, brand love is when customers are so passionate about your business that they do something remarkable around your business or brand. A great recent example of this is from blogger and extreme Apple fan, David Wu. In his love for Apple, David was inspired to convert his home office into a replica of an Apple store. Seriously. That’s real customer passion for a brand; but, you don’t have to be Apple to inspire that type of enthusiasm.
Over the past few years, it’s become a trend for dedicated customers to get a tattoo of their favorite brand. Echo.com, an online retailer, even capitalized on the trend by offering life-long discounts to customers sporting the brand’s logo in body ink. If your customers haven’t reached that level of brand love, yet, don’t worry.
There are plenty of examples of customers who make it a point to shine the spotlight on lesser-known businesses (and in less extreme ways). These early advocates can help spark wide-spread enthusiasm for an up-and-coming brand, like yours. Consider high-profile customers, like celebrities, politicians, bloggers, etc, who may love your brand so much that they make spontaneous public endorsements for it.
Even more likely is that you have dedicated customers who profess their love for your brand every day on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. Seemingly simple expressions of brand love can occur in the form of somewhat formal customer reviews or in more impromptu ways, showing up as endorsements in the comment sections of blogs and during popular Twitter Chats.
These genuine testimonials are quite powerful to an audience of consumers who increasingly look to their peers (and outright strangers) for product and service recommendations. For example, I recently tweeted about an app called Flipboard and asked if anyone had used it. I got a couple of very quick and very enthusiastic responses from random users who professed their undying love for the app (okay, it wasn’t quite that dramatic – but there were plenty of exclamation points in the Tweets).
These outpourings of “brand love” often lead to what I call, unexpected sales. The term “unexpected sales” simply refers to some event or activity that either causes an unplanned spike in traffic that converts into sales; or, is an uncontrolled (by you) event or activity that exposes your brand to customers outside your normal target and results in revenue. Disclaimer: obviously, your goal is to create as many opportunities to sell stuff as humanely possible and a great deal of work usually goes into achieving that goal through marketing and PR; but, there are times when your brand (and sales) benefit from something that you did not plan for or control – and that’s why it’s considered “unexpected sales.”
Take the example of an unprompted celebrity endorsement. Recently, a host of the Today Show expressed (okay, she downright gushed!) how much she “loves” a t-shirt made by HeadRush. The result was an unexpected and immediate influx of traffic to the company’s online store – which resulted in both a flood of new customers and a spike in new sales. However, that brings us to the downside of unexpected sales from a burst of brand lov’n. In the case of HeadRush, the ringing endorsement tested the site’s servers (this often happens to online businesses when they aren’t prepared to handled a sudden influx of traffic). HeadRush did the right thing and took to Twitter to explain that their site had so much traffic, it was bogged down. Unfortunately, that also meant many would-be customers couldn’t even get on the site. But kudos to HeadRush for later Tweeting out a discount, asking those who couldn’t access the site to come back and try again.
That brings us to the next point. Are you doing everything you can to prepare for, build on, and reward and spread customer love of your brand? Even though you can’t always predict unexpected sales, there are things you can do to make your brand more lovable and thus build on the likelihood that you’ll see unexpected sales. Continue reading part two of this series, to see the four ways to turn brand love into unexpected sales.
Shannon Belew is an online marketing strategist & author of the best selling book, “Starting an Online Business For Dummies All-in-One” and founder of OnlineMarketingToGo.com