Friday, June 08, 2007

Are you trying to create customers, or fans?

I've got two new posts up at Daily Fix for this week. The first talks about the marketing mindset at Maker's Mark, and how the distillery views its customers as 'friends'. I also talk about their ambassador program and how they use it to 'shift' control of its marketing to its ambassadors and give them the responsibility of recruiting more customers for Maker's Mark.

Then today I also talk today about how CBS responded to, and then reached out to Jericho's fans to save the show. In both cases, I don't think we're trying to talk about a company and network that tried to create new customers, but rather, that had the marketing mindset of attempting to create new evangelists/fans.

I blog here often about music marketing, and a big reason why is because so many artists have the marketing mindset of trying to create new fans, not new customers. Someone once told me that it was just 'easier' for artists to create fans, than it was for companies.

While I somewhat agree with that position, I don't believe it's pure accident that music artists know how to create fans. For example, let's look at how the band Tesla is launching its new CD, Reel To Reel.

First there's the CD itself. It costs around $14, or the price of an average CD. But when you open it, you discover that it comes in a double-CD case, but with only one CD. You receive the second CD for free, if you attend any Tesla concert on the band's upcoming tour. Why is this a good move? Because the band is basically giving you a free CD for attending a concert, because it likely knows that if you see one of the band's concerts, you're more likely to become a fan.

Then there's the tour itself. It was launched in May in the band's hometown of Sacramento, with a FREE concert that included a preview of Reel to Reel, and a special listening party after the concert where the band stayed to autograph copies of the CD.

Again, does this sound like the band is trying to create customers, or fans for its music? If it simply wanted to create customers, all Tesla had to do was include $1 off coupons in the Best Buy and Wal-Mart circulars good toward the band's new CD. But its marketing is instead aimed at getting people to the band's concerts, because they know that if they can, they will likely love the experience, and become fans.

It's all about your marketing mindset. If a Kentucky distillery can create evangelists/fans just as easily as a rock band can, then your company has no excuse.

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J.D. said...

I'm a little confused by your thought process here, with regard to Tesla's marketing effort. I'm sure I'm missing something here, so feel free to poke back.

To my way of thinking, you're only going to go to a Tesla concert to get the free CD if you are truly already a fan or Tesla completist. The CD seems to be a push more towards upping concert ticket sales among current fans than creating more new fans. Of course my thinking could be skewed a little bit, because obviously just a casual music listener isn't going to pick up a Tesla CD at random in the first place. I've been a Tesla fan for years, and I'm fairly sure that I would pick it up, but your average teenager is too young to even remember Tesla in their glory days, much less pay for their CD.

My point is, yes, it's a brilliant move to get already extant Tesla fans to attend concerts. It would most likely work for me. But will the casual listener who doesn't really have any emotional investment in the band actually pay $40 to $60 bucks to go to a show just for a free CD of a band they're not yet fans of?

Mack Collier said...

Or what if you decide to buy the CD just to check the band out. Let's say you love the first CD, then discover that you can get the second one for free, if you attend a Tesla concert.

Either way, if Reel to Reel is your first Tesla CD, or your 10th, the chance to score a free CD by attending a Tesla concert is going to make you more likely to....attend a Tesla concert. And that means there will likely be more concert attendees out there telling their friends about how great the Tesla concerts are. Again, I think the band realizes that if they can get fans to their shows, that they'll likely have a great time, and evangelize the band to their friends. So their marketing is aimed at making that happen.

J.D. said...

Ah, okay, that makes a little bit more sense. I'm a little skeptical about people picking up the CD at random, but then again, I've done that before myself, so who knows? I guess if you're listening to the Boneyard on XM and hear a Tesla song you like, that could be a factor. And I am continually surprised at how many teens are picking up stuff like Led Zeppelin and Boston and Guns N Roses and stuff like that.

I think that concert-goers almost always become evangelists if they get a good show. So that part I definitely agree with :) That way, to push the evangelist metaphor a bit further, they are turning parishioners of the church into pulpit ministers for the brand :)

Mack Collier said...

Exactly. Music artists understand the importance of creating fans (evangelists). Maybe its because the benefits of evangelizing music are easier to see (hear), but music artists understand that if they create fans for their music, that those fans will go out and create more fans.

'Fan' is another word for 'evangelist'. This is why I think more companies need to shift their marketing mindset from creating new customers, to trying to create more evangelists. Because those evangelists will go out in the community and recruit customers FOR them. Evangelists can reach a company's target market better than the company can because THEY ARE the target market!

Ryan said...

In my brain, when I think fan, I think hockey (call me Canadian or something crazy like that).

Your post reminds me of the NHLs recent attempt to attract more 'fans' south of the 49th parallel.

The Tesla story, discussing a band trying to (attempt to) tap into potential new fans, would seem to be logical. By creating new fans, you thereby create new customers by way of interest and appreciation of the product (in this case, the music). In turn, money is spent and everyone leaves happy.

But what if the interest just isn't there? The NHL has continually tried to make inroads in southern US states, in an attempt to attract the almighty dollar. The thing is, it just isn't working. We've seen time and time again how game attendance is meager and TV ratings are horrible in many US markets - how far does a company go (whether a band or a sports team) to attempt to create new fans (read: evangelists)?

Maybe in this case it's not the product itself, but the approach in which they're trying to reel new fans in...

If the NHL had the answer, they'd be laughing all the way to the bank...

I sense a blog post...

Mack Collier said...

Ryan I don't the NHL will ever be popular in warmer climates, because we don't have the infrastructure in place to support it. While kids in Canada grow up playing ice hockey, kids here in the south grow up playing football, basketball and baseball, pretty much in that order. So when we grow up, we watch to watch and be fans of the sports we participated in growing up, and are already familiar with. Likewise, I'm sure most Canadians would much rather watch the NHL than the NFL or NBA.

I could see there being potential for the growth of NHL fans in cooler US climates such as the Northeast and some areas of the Midwest, but other than that, I think its a waste of time for the NHL to try to market themselves in climates that are too warm to support the sport.

Geno Church said...

Matt, I just took my twelve-year-old daughter to see Peter Frampton. Her music taste is alt rock stuff from Fall Out Boy to From First to Last. She's also an aspiring guitarist. She took my word on it that Frampton was an awesome guitarist and was excited to go. We rocked, we gave standing ovations and we laughed. We also searched like mad for some Frampton on a Sirius channel. Frampton takes your point further. I would call him an ambassador for rock. The man truly loves to entertain and his honesty on stage takes me back to my teenage days and models true aspiration for teens like my daughter. I also think musicians that are successful are usually very good communicators with their music and in how they treat their fans.

Anonymous said...


Very thought-provoking. The distinction between fans and customers is a long, thin grey line. The purpose of marketing is to do both, and I have never worked in a business, including my own, where we did not recognize that. I also traveled with a rock band, who worked hard to create fans. But, again, not for the sake of ego but for the sake of sales--tickets, tee-shirts, records and so on. At the end of the day, the purpose of any marketing endeavor, even when we give freebies, is to create happy customers who become fans who drive sales.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Question on this:

"This is why I think more companies need to shift their marketing mindset from creating new customers, to trying to create more evangelists."

If we create exemplary products/services (our core job of creating value) then isn't that the ticket to all these "evangelists"? I understand wanting to "create evangelists" but that's a hard thing to force (evangelists are, after all, an organic initiative).

Shouldn't we just be doing a better our core jobs? Which would include listening to customer needs/wants and creating superior products/experiences.

Does this make sense as I'm sorta scratching my head at so much of the talk about 'creating' evangelists. Thoughts?