Cultivating Fans Online
by Marcia Yudkin
According to a Recording
Industry of America survey, about 7 in 10 music
fans do not become aware of the news that their
favorite performer has released a new record.
Substitute "new product" or "new
service" in that statistic and you have the
plight of most businesses. Whether you sell diet
counseling or electric drills, collecting and
nurturing enthusiasts requires little or no
money online and pays off handsomely.
It's important to note that
fans need not be paying customers. Admirers who
will never directly pay you a dime may recommend
you repeatedly to buyers, to the media, to
industry heavyweights or to investors.
Here's the strategy in
broadest terms. In every situation where you
have the opportunity to make an impression on
people interested in your area of expertise, you
offer them the option of joining your email
list. Then you stay in touch with them
regularly, reinforcing their impression of your
competence and becoming trusted and familiar to
them. At that point they'll practically mobilize
themselves to act like fans, either buying from
you themselves or telling others to do so.
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And now here are some
techniques that help channel casual, one-time
contact into an enduring fan relationship.
Your email signature.
Exchanging email just once about business
can turn someone into a subscriber when you
append a few lines tempting someone to add
themselves to your list. For instance:
"For a free weekly dose of motivation
to stay on your diet, subscribe to Slim
Thinking at www.easydieting.com."
Enable the automatic signature feature in
your email software so that this gets tacked
on the end without you having to remember
Your business cards. If
you can squeeze it on - there's almost
always room on the back - add a suggestion
on your business card similar to the one in
your email signature. That way, people who meet you at a
networking event will see your prompt to
subscribe when they get home and look
through their stack of cards.
message. Image consultant Mary Lou Andre
by Design does this especially well. If
you call her office after hours you hear
this recording, in part: "While on our
site, we hope you'll sign up to receive our
Dressing Well Tip of the Week, which is
delivered free of charge each Monday to your
electronic mailbox. If you leave your email
address on our voice-mail system, we'll be
happy to sign you up directly."
Your brochures or flyers.
If you speak, as I do, or man a booth at
trade shows, hand out something giving
attendees a reason for them to get onto your
list. "For free solutions to common
drilling problems five days a week, sign up
for The Daily Drill at http://www.thedailydrill.com."
My brochure includes the contents of two
Minute texts along with instructions for
An invitation at your web
site. Too many sites ask people to type
in their email address without a description
of the contents of the subscription and its
benefits, not to mention privacy
reassurances. Those extra elements make a
big difference in turning first-time
visitors to your web site into quality
Your signature in
online forums or discussion lists. For
instance, a web designer includes an
invitation for you to enter her sphere of
influence when she posts to discussion
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Once you collect a solid core
of followers, maintain their favor by providing
them regularly with useful information. In 2000,
I tapped the power of my fan club by telling
subscribers to my weekly newsletter, The
Marketing Minute, that my new book, Internet
Marketing for Less than $500/Year, had just
been posted on Amazon.com, with the rock-bottom
rank of 1,559,153. About 30 hours after I
pressed the "send" button to my fans,
I checked the same book page and my new book had
shot up to 6,000-something.
Imagine hundreds of people
marching off to their local hardware stores to
ask for your drills - because you had laid the
groundwork for that effect among your email
Marcia Yudkin. All rights reserved.
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