I recommend a product to friends so much that I've almost become a spokesperson. I talk about the product on Twitter and Facebook and in person. I've gotten many friends and family to use (and Tweet) the product themselves. I gush to people randomly about trying it. I watch for new outlets for the product in town and blast it out on Twitter when there is one just because I'm happy about it. What life-changing product is it that I've become an evangelist for?
A company that makes shakes and smoothies, called F'real.
Non-Push Marketing In Action
F'real doesn't have a heavy advertising presence. I discovered them by accident at a gas station. Soon, I began telling everyone about them. I knew when and where friends were traveling, and so I would say "you should stop here and get a F'real" and explained what they were and how to use the machine. They'd heard me talking about them on Twitter. They were already curious. It wasn't long before they were tweeting about F'real, too.
F'real, however, had no idea the when and where of my friends' travel plans. They hadn't even said to them "hey, have you heard of us?" through heavy advertising. They let me do that work instead, and they rode the trust my friends have in me all the way to the bank. I'm completely ridiculous about it.
4 Steps To Brand Evangelists
I use hundreds of different products, many of which I like very much, but I don't promote them like I do with F'real. What's the difference? How do you turn a customer into an evangelist for your brand, someone who promotes and encourages and spreads the word freely and honestly? Why would a chocolate shake make me clog up my Twitter feed?
- Quality product. I've never had anyone tell me they didn't like a F'real beverage. They're pretty good, which actually surprises most people when they first try it. You just don't expect a good shake from a gas station or booth. The product stands on its own.
- Unique experience. The machines you use to make them are fun, with the top-end machine featuring a cartoon video of a cow while your shake is made. And, you get to choose the thickness of the shake, i.e. they let the consumer have some control. It adds to the value of the product. There are lots of shakes and beverages out there. They made their's a fun experience.
- Socially active. F'real is extremely active in social media. They encourage and share fans photos and comments, and they give them a place to participate. Their YouTube channel isn't filled with advertisements, but with customers and people enjoying the product. They sell their product by showing how much fun people have with it. They make their beverage social, not just their marketing.
- Habit forming. They've put a clever message under the lid of each beverage which explains a lot of the photos seen posted to Twitter. Using their smartphone, people "collect" the sayings, and post them online when they buy a F'real. In a sense, this becomes a kind of game or "addictive" element (beyond the addictive nature of the beverage themselves).
Your Message Is Around Your Product
It's a beverage. It should be about tasting good, or slaking thirst.
F'real, however, has made a die-hard and enthusiastic customer base by making the "tastes good" part a given, and focusing their energy into making the product a movement and a social activity. They're not selling the product, necessarily. They're selling a feeling and experience about the product. They're selling the benefits of the product, not the features.
Look at those four ingredients above. Are these part of your brand's secret sauce recipe? Are your fans and customers merely clicking "like" on Facebook, or are they telling friends face-to-face how awesome you are? Customers are brand evangelists because they want to be, and brand evangelism goes way beyond word-of-mouth.