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Cultivating your fans

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Brands & Campaigns

Jeremy Epstein runs Never Stop Marketing, a firm that specializes in “cutting-edge Community Driven Marketing” for such clients as Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Yes To Carrots, and best-selling author Dan Pink. He blogs religiously at Igniting the Revolution and can be found on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Plaxo, FriendFeed.

Who wouldn’t want customers like those of Dan Pink’s book “The Adventures of Johnny Bunko,” who volunteered their own time and money to host events for other readers?

Or the the fans who love Yes To Carrots enough to donate their Facebook status updates to spreading the natural cosmetics company’s message

Sure, everyone wants that. But, it doesn’t just happen. It takes work. (Ugh, I know, I wish it didn’t).

The full business case and process for Community Driven Marketing is outlined in my white paper, “Community Driven Marketing: The Power of the Raving Fan,” but for now I’ll summarize the 3 steps of building a CDM engine:

  1. Identify your most passionate customers (your Raving Fans).
  2. Cultivate the relationships
  3. Activate them

Identification just isn’t that hard. There are enough “listening” tools out there that anyone can find their most passionate customers. (If you don’t have them, you have more fundamental problems and CDM can’t help you.)

Activating them is work, but it’s not impossible. Marketers have been building plans, guidelines, and programs for years. There are some special elements as it relates to Raving Fans, but these can be taught.

No, I am afraid the middle ground, the cultivation, what Seth Godin might call “The Dip” between finding them and activating them is where wanna-be CDM marketers are most likely to get tripped up for a few reasons.

  • It’s not a total science.
  • You need to truly care.
  • Customers don’t care about your quarterly objectives.
  • You can’t rush relationships.

The more I practice CDM with my clients, the more I realize that it comes down to “Cultivation. Cultivation. Cultivation.”

Fortunately, there are plenty sources from which to draw to figure out how you can cultivate your Raving Fans.

From classic models such as that executed by Mary Kay Ash to the wisdom offered by Emanuel Rosen in his recently updated “The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited,” you can find ideas for cultivation in many places.

One of my more recent finds was in Andy Nulman’s new book “Pow! Right Between the Eyes: Profiting from the Power of Surprise.”

I’ve described the paradigm shift that we are undergoing as the transition of marketing from matches to gasoline. Your Raving Fans are burning with passion. Your job as a CDM practitioner is to pour gasoline on that fire so that it spreads like wildfire through the social graph.

How are you cultivating your relationships with your fans?

Image credit, iStock