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The entertainment industry can teach marketers a lot about incorporating fandom into a company’s strategy.

From Beliebers to Kardashian followers, America is the land of the superfan. Diehard aficionados are the first ones to download a new album, tune in to the latest episode, or buy a concert ticket. 

But the fandom phenomenon isn’t limited to the entertainment industry. In other spaces, fandom equates brand advocacy, a power that can’t be underestimated.

That passion and sense of community can yield a sort of citizen army for brands.  

Apple, for instance, wasn’t really seen as cool back when PCs were taking the world by storm.

But by the time Steve Jobs returned to the company and started developing products, things had changed. Today, people camp out for days to buy the newest phones and upgrade their Apple products.

The entertainment industry can teach marketers a lot about incorporating fandom into a company’s strategy. Here are three such strategies you can utilize to improve your brand:

1. Do a brand assessment and customer audit

Any fan-boosting approach must be rooted in an initial brand assessment and customer audit. How can you better appeal to fans if you don’t even know what they want? 

When the Kardashians gear up for a new season, they don’t just wing it; they delve into storylines that resonate most with their audience.

Similarly, ask what happens to your product when it comes off the assembly line and how people react and interact with it.

Who makes up your largest customer group, and what characterizes that group’s purchasing behaviors? Use those insights to drive future marketing and positioning decisions.

Recently, we worked with the snow sports industry’s SIA show. The event attracts many passionate people who live and work in the business.

That event has taught us the importance of making sure, even in business-to-business dealings, that our client and customer relationships are about the end user and end product.

2. Take care of your customers, and they’ll take care of you

From Taylor Swift to David Beckham, successful celebs take the time to interact with their fans via everything from social media to special appearances. In return, fans tend to love them even more and become loyal.

The same goes for your company. The more you communicate with and value your customers, the more they’ll reciprocate that positivity.

You can accomplish this through avenues such as social media, email communication, and experiential marketing campaigns.

For example, think about the public transportation market prior to Uber. The bar was set pretty low, right?

I’ve probably had a dozen good cab rides in my lifetime, and it’s pretty easy to tell when a cab driver would have rather waited for a longer fare than drive you five miles. 

But when Uber entered the transportation game, it used courteousness, convenience, and a personal touch to distinguish its brand. Disgruntled cabbies were replaced by polite, positive yuppies looking to make an extra buck. 

Nordstrom’s superior customer care is also well documented. The store truly embodies a customer-first mentality by making everything from shopping to returns as easy as possible.

3. Nurture Fandom

Celebs give fans the opportunity to interact at concerts, in social media comments, and in other promotions. Your brand should do the same thing.

Don’t just create a community; help it grow in the way that’s most conducive to your audience.

For instance, if Millennials are your key target, they respond well to brand-curated communities, while Gen Z prefers a more hands-off approach that empowers them to create their own spaces.

You have to nurture and care for your fans.

At Comic-Con, J.J. Abrams bought pizza for 1,500 fans who were waiting outside the convention hall overnight to see him speak at the Star Wars panel.

After he finished, he invited everybody in the room - hundreds of people - to walk across the street to the stadium for a concert. 

Once you realize you’ve grabbed your fans’ attention and understand what’s important to them, you don’t want to mess that up.

You have to be respectful of their time and energy, and you have to realize that they have a certain amount of control over your brand’s destiny.

Justin has his Beliebers, and Apple has cultivated a hardcore following that will never again consider buying a non-iOS device.

What does your fan base look like?

Eddie Newquist

Published 21 January, 2016 by Eddie Newquist

Eddie Newquist is the chief creative officer at Global Experience Specialists and contributor at Econsultancy. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

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