I ran across a book by Mack Collier that has a great message for companies to consider when developing and maintaining a brand.  The book is called Think Like a Rock Star: How to create social media and marketing strategies that turn customers into fans. First off, let me say that I Love This Book! I love it for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I am a huge fan of music.  I’ve become fascinated recently with how bands seem to be able to generate intense fan loyalty (go to a Pearl Jam concert if you don’t believe me). The other reason I love it is because it turns traditional marketing logic on its head and it works!

Collier discovered that rock stars cultivate their fans in ways that can be copied by brands. He contends that Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Pearl Jam are brands and that you can learn from their marketing efforts and apply it to your own brand-building.

According to Collier, the marketing that rock stars do is counter-intuitive to most brands. He illustrates this in his Loyalty Graph:




It’s clear what the difference is when you see this visual.  Rock stars focus on their most rabid fans and in doing so connect with less than 5% of their customer base.  The average brand does just the opposite by spending millions to market to the other 95% of customers.

Rock stars understand that consumers trust other customers more than they trust the brands who market to them, so they give the power to their fans by having them deliver their marketing messages.  Collier says that traditional brands don’t do this because they want complete control over how messages are shared. “The problem with this approach is that as a result, any communication from the brand is viewed as being ‘marketing,’ and as such, less trustworthy to the average customer. So to make sure your marketing message is actually heard, it needs to pass through a source that the customer trusts, such as another customer (fan).”

So why don’t traditional brands embrace this philosophy? Collier says most brands don’t trust their fans enough to give them control over their marketing, but most rock stars do because they understand who their fans are and what motivates them.  This in turn engenders reciprocal trust from the fans because fans naturally want their favorite band to succeed.

How do they do this? They constantly connect with their most passionate fans so they understand who they are and can spread the message they want them to spread.  Case in point: Pearl Jam’s Ten Club is a fan organization started by Pearl Jam in 1990 as a way for the band to give back to their fans and create a community around Pearl Jam’s music. Through its communication with members Pearl Jam lets fans know where they’re going to be touring, gives them access to bootlegs and new releases before non-members, lets them take advantage of priority ticketing and publishes a monthly newsletter with contests and rare merchandise giveaways.  Throughout all this communication, Pearl Jam lets fans know what they stand for through their acts of activism and support of non-profit organizations.  And of course they take advantage of social media to the max with over 10 million Facebook fans, nearly 3 million Twitter followers and over 260,000 Instagram followers.

Collier offers six tips on becoming a rock star brand:

  1. Understand the business value of your fans.
  2. Focus on ways to increase interaction with your biggest fans.
  3. Communicate to your fans how they can help you.
  4. Ask your fans for feedback.
  5. Remember, this is doable.
  6. Build the stage for your fans.

Collier advocates for starting a conversation with your customers by conducting an experiment. He says to tweet back a Thank You to the next five customers who mention your brand on Twitter and see if at least one, and possibly all five, respond back saying you are welcome. “By simply interacting with customers that self-identified as being fans of your brand, you gave them a reason to think more positively about your brand, and a reason to create more positive word of mouth about your brand.”


“I know some day you’ll have a beautiful life / I know you’ll be a star in somebody else’s sky / But why can’t it be mine?” (from Black by Eddie Vedder and Stone Gossard).


Take Action on Blue in Flat Design. Make a list and reach out to one of your brand advocates every day for  the next month and see how they respond, then let us know what  happened.  Were you surprised?

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