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2007-11-28

Five Ways To Turn Your Clients Into Fans

One: Start a Fan Club

Start an online or offline newsletter containing the hottest information on what interests prospects and existing clients of your products or services.

- Ask them to join your club with their subscriptions. Give them something in return a product with your logo, a resource for the best information, and/or "hot links" to other informative, interesting resources.

- Schedule a fun event at least once a year to allow your "fans" to meet each other. Invite a special, fun guest. Have your meeting in a fun place - on a beach or at the hippest, new restaurant instead of in a hotel conference room.

You can also have an Online Party.

- Offer free prizes to your fans - find out what some of their "wants" are in certain demographic groups.

- Offer a free 10 minute "makeover" in your area of expertise; this is great from a financial makeover to a kitchen makeover.

- Offer a free report on the "Five Smartest Strategies to ......" highlighted by splashy colors on one easy-to-read page of paper.

- For great tips on how to put together an online newsletter, visit www.companynewsletters.com. For a free online newsletter template, visit www.neighborhoodassociation.biz/.

Two: Court the Media

That Forbes magazine was writing about "fawning adoration from the press" toward Apple Computer was itself, well, fawning.

- Court the media with what is innovative, user-friendly and important about your product or service.

- Send a well-written news release that summarizes "who, what, when where and how," and include your cell phone number in addition to your work number.

- Be available when the media returns your phone call. With differing deadlines, that means that you should be ready to take the call early in the morning or late at night.

- Target the media in your field, but also the general media.

- Make yourself available as a source with expertise in your field to talk about general trends. To earn your "expert" label, commit yourself to keeping on top of research and emerging trends in your field.

- Here's a quick way to learn how businesses similar to yours are courting the media. Go to "Google" and type in "news release" with a description of your product or service.

For example, if you are a technology consultant, type in "news release technology consultant." Save the news releases that get your attention. Don't imitate, but extrapolate from the best ideas to incorporate your ideas and tips into your news release.

- Use Education or "Edutainment" (educate through entertainment). It is easier for the media to write about your products and services if they understand what they do and how they are done.

Three: Get Your Name Out There

Even with little or no marketing budget, you can get the name of your company, product or service out there with news releases (See No. 2).

- Become a partner in a civic cause or with another company in a related field with which you can share expenses.

- Coca-Cola brands itself as "the real thing." Come up with a catch phrase to describe your product or service and make sure that catch phrase or word accompanies the brand name.

Most recently, I read an article on "Obamanomics."

- Network. Pick up the telephone and ask local clubs and organizations if you can make a presentation, and bring along plenty of business cards and one-page handouts with your brand name and message.

- Remember to network online - the internet is a very important networking source today.

- Again, go to "Google" and type in the name of your city and the words "business meeting schedule." Ask yourself how your product or service can make a great topic for a future presentation.

Four: Ask Your Clients

Tell your best clients you want them to become fans; then, ask them what it would take to become a fan.

- You'd be surprised at the number of businesses that do not take the time to survey their clients.

- If clients tell you they already are fans, ask them what it is about your product or service that makes them fans instead of ordinary customers.

- Listen, take lots of notes and use what your customers say to develop a strategy to build your fan base.

- At www.polarismr.com, you'll find a sample survey from Polaris Marketing Research. However, at the end of each section, add the word "Why?" with plenty of space for anecdotal information that will allow you to "go deeper" into why some clients are fans and others are not.

Five: Keep Your Fans

Starting up a new fan club isn't enough to keep it in business. Set aside at least one hour each week to think about -- and only about -- what you will do next that is more innovative, creative and important than what you already have accomplished with your product or service.

- Take a cue from Apple, which obviously is doing plenty of homework to be able to regularly announce attention-getting innovations.

- Innovation is exciting, regardless of the field.

- Adopt the "innovative" mindset (along with a promise to do the homework) to keep the fans you have and attract new fans to your club each year.

- Always include your existing fans in all your new releases and special discounts.