Did you make a growth plan for your business?
How many followers/readers/fans/subscribers did you plan to have within your first year? Was it 20,000, 75,000, eleventy million?
And how many of those were you hoping you could convert to actual paying customers? Maybe 5000, 15,000, a trillion?
While being optimistic about your growth is important to your success, these are the kind of figures our egos create (we’re all victims) and while our ego can serve its purpose in some situations, it should never be allowed to write a business plan.
Would you be surprised if I told you that in order to make enough money to live comfortably off your business, you only need 1000 fans?
Not just any 1000 fans, 1000 true fans!
The idea isn’t new. When Kevin Kelly first put it out there back in 2008, it was mind-blowing in its simplicity and caused a big shift in thinking for a lot of online marketers with great products and small marketing budgets.
What is a true fan?
True fans are the kind of people who email you to ask is everything alright if your weekly newsletter is 6 hours late. They’re the people who travel to book-signings and wait 4 hours in the rain just to get to meet you. They’re the people who can’t wait to buy just about anything you have to sell because it’s you that’s selling it. In short, they love you!
You’ll recognize them!
Why True Fans Matter
The thinking behind the 1000 true fans plan goes like this;
If you have true fans, it’s easier to make money selling to them than it is to keep getting new customers to buy.
It costs 7 times more to acquire a new customer than it costs to keep an existing one.
For every true fan, you should be able to generate $100 per year. Multiply that by 1000 and you’ve got a yearly income of $100,000.
Of course, the model is not absolute. Maybe you need $200,000 to maintain your lifestyle, then you’ll need 2000 true fans or 1000 true fans buying $200 in value from you every year.
For many lifestyle entrepreneurs, a smaller number of true fans is a solid and achievable goal that provides a base income from which they can continue to grow their business without financial pressure.
How do you get true fans?
Ah, the tricky part. How do you acquire those 1000 true fans?
Brian Clarke of Copyblogger fame has a 20 step process for reaching your first 1000 true fans. It’s more about setup than strategy but useful nonetheless as a blueprint for building a framework to take action.
In reality, getting 1000 true fans is something you probably already know how to do and you may well be on the way to achieving it already because it involves doing the basic essentials to selling anything online.
Here’s my take on it.
#1 – Love what you do
It’s a cliché, but true nevertheless. Whatever you’re doing, be passionate about it. You can’t acquire true fans if you’re not committed to what it is they love. True fandom starts with a shared passion.
#2 – Be EPIC at what you do
Whether you’re blogging about food, teaching the oboe, writing a book or sharing your travels, do it to the very best of your ability. True fans are attracted to excellence. They love you because you do it better than anybody else and that sets you apart.
#3 – Let your personality shine
Don’t be afraid to be yourself, to use your own voice, to share your own unique perspective. Fans are attracted to people, not products.
#4 – Put yourself out there
‘If you build it, they will come’, he said.
The first three points are the foundation. Without them, you can never attract true fans. But, it’s not enough. You also need to promote yourself to let others know that you’re passionate about what you do, that you do it amazingly well and that you do it with personality!
Be diligent about social media. Share what you do and give ‘holy crap’ value, whether it’s involving followers in your product creation process, helping them with free tutorials and training or inspiring them with your charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent (hello Rue Paul fans!).
#5 – Make connections
Fan don’t simply appear. It takes a lot of work. The good news is that getting your first real fans is that hardest part. Once you get those, they’ll spread the word and your following will grow quickly.
Reach out to other people and influencers who share your fan base. Through strategies like guest posting and appearing on podcasts, you can piggyback on their success to build your first small following.
If you’re offering a unique perspective and amazing insight and value, leaders in your industry or niche will often be willing to give you exposure. It benefits both you, by helping you reach your target audience and them too, by giving them unique content to share with their audience.
#6 – Nurture Your First Fans
When you do successfully begin to build your fanbase, it’s important that you do everything possible to let them know that you’re working your butt off not to let them down.
Treat them well by providing value where you can and by keeping conversations going through email and across your social channels.
Be present to them.
#7 – Know the difference between fans and ‘true’ fans
Not all fans are created equal. The true fans are those who actually buy your products or services.
It’s important to know exactly who these people are. Use your ESP (eMail Service Provider) to segment buyers into a special ‘VIP’ list. You’ll need to integrate your ESP with your shopping cart solution or CRM.
This way, you’ll have access to those customers at all times. You’ll see who your repeat customers are. You’ll see what they are willing to pay and you’ll be able to connect with them to provide extra value and rewards.
You also be able to estimate the LTV (lifetime value) of each customer.
#8 – Make your true fans your ambassadors
True fans will be only too glad to help you. Encourage them to do this with incentives and rewards for spreading the word about you and your products across their social media channels.
Ask them for testimonials and reviews. These will help boost your social proof and encourage others to take the first step to becoming a true fan.
#9 – Rinse & Repeat
When you know what works, keep doing it until you reach your goal of 1000 true fans.
The important point is to never neglect your existing true fans in the pursuit of more true fans.
Stay loyal and they will too!
Books & resource to help build an audience of true fans
If you want to study up or you’re a ‘gimme the rule-book’ type person, here are some on-topic books and resources to help you start to build a fan base and attract loyal customers eager to buy whatever you’re selling.
- Kevin Kelly’s original post, “1,000 True Fans” explains everything directly from the man who was clever enough to formulate this strategy. Definitely ‘required reading’.
- Rohit Bhargava’s “Personality Not Included” is a book that shows brands how to evoke a dynamic personality in order to attract passionate customers.
- Seth Godin’s “Tribes” is about all about building communities around ‘leaders’ – which goes to the core of attracting your true fans.
- Guy Kawasaki’s “Enchantment” is a book that pulls apart the abstract science of enchanting people and making them fans.
What Do You Think?
Are you building a fan base of loyal customers? Does the 1000 true fans model appeal to you. Can it work for your business. Share you comments below. We love to hear them.