Building a Tribe: How to Create a Following for your Brand

Wondering how to pump up your marketing efforts? No, the answer isn’t lobbying for unlimited budgets so you can pepper potential customers with newspaper, radio and TV ads. In today’s interactive world, the best way to amp up your marketing is to create a tribe.

The concept of a tribe transcends a customer merely liking or being satisfied with your brand or product. Your tribe is made up of your brand’s biggest fans – customers or prospects that will often take to Twitter and Facebook to share your praises or recommend your product. A great example of a brand with a loyal tribe is Harley Davidson. Harley has gone beyond just  selling a product – they sell a lifestyle. The Harley Davidson website is a testament to the fact, boasting a whole submenu devoted entirely to the Harley experience. Here you can find subgroups of Harley riders (like the Latin American “Harlistas”), learn about local events, see the schedule for factory tours, plan your ride, or view photos. Another example? Think Apple. Customers often own multiple Apple products, and sport t-shirts and bumper stickers declaring their affinity for the brand.

How can you build your own tribe?  Here are 6 steps to get you started.

  1. Be the best at what you do. True, it’s easier said than done. But being vigilant about differentiating your brand and constantly improving your product will place you at the top of your category.
  2. Give your customers exceptional value. Beyond the basics of quality and pricing, think about additional ways to deliver value to your customers – free shipping, coupons, or additional knowledge and tools that you can offer free of charge. For example, a local print shop could create a mini-book that offers tips for creating high-quality print ads.
  3. Underpromise & overdeliver. The age-old adage has never been truer than in the digital age, where a customer’s experience can be broadcast instantly. Establish honest expectations about what your products and services do AND don’t do.
  4. Give your loyal customers another reason to love you. Have a loyalty program in place? If not, it’s a great investment for your organization. Loyalty programs deliver extra incentive for your customers to keep coming back. Choose your program’s incentives based on what matters to your customers – poorly perceived benefits won’t drive repeat business.
  5. Remember that word of mouth is still the best marketing. Consider setting up a referral program that rewards customers that deliver leads to your doorstep – in effect, have your existing fans recruit more tribe members. It encourages customers to continue to engage with your brand past the purchase, and generates quality leads for your business to follow up on.
  6. Talk to your customers to understand how you can improve. Keeping the lines of communication open is simple – display contact information clearly on your website, and utilize social media tools to stay in front of your customers. And don’t forget your front-line staff, like your sales force, when it comes to gathering customer feedback.

Wondering how to measure your success in creating a tribe? NPS is a great way to evaluate how customers feel about your brand. Your NPS score is a single number that takes into account the percentage of customers that are promoters and detractors for your brand. A customer’s categorization is determined based upon the answer to a simple question: “How likely are you to recommend (product, service or brand) to a friend or colleague?” The respondent answers on a scale of 0 to 10, which lets you determine who’s a promoter (9 or 10), passive (7 or 8), or detractor (0 through 6). Then subtract the percentage of your customers that are detractors from the percentage that are promoters, and you’ve got your NPS score. And in case you’re wondering, Apple and Harley both sport NPS scores ranging between 60 and 80%.

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