March came and went with my ability to hold on to the goal of mine of reading a business (or creative/mind think) book every month for a year. I tend to ramble on and on about all the books I read over on my GoodReads profile, but I thought there might be some merit in tying in the reviews of the business type books I get to over here on the blog (especially since a lot of my audience here is comprised of fellow photographers!)
So, with that in mind, and looking past January’s book review of Seth Godin’s “Linchpin” and February’s review of Rollo May’s “The Courage to Create,” here’s my take on Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba’s “Creating Customer Evangelists” (which, if you want to purchase, click here).
“We’re drowning in a sea of media and information overload. In a world with so much choice, how do people make decisions? By relying on trusted friends, colleagues, or family members. In the new world of marketing, evangelists act as key influencers on future customers. The ideal scenario is when a customer has been made on your behalf well before they hand over their credit card.”
Being a part of an industry as over-saturated as photography, the push to market one’s self can be difficult — but I’m a big believer in the power of word of mouth marketing. Creating loyalty with clients — and, in many cases, turning them into friends — has been a big factor to growing my business (and I know the same is true of other hard-working photographers out there).
For “Creating Customer Evangelists”, McConnell and Huba outline a set of key concepts they believe serves as the perfect equation for gaining these customer evangelists. Those concepts in summary (adding them here will be a great point of reference for me in the future as I want to work on making each applicable to my own biz):
- Customer Plus-Delta: Continuously understanding what customers love about you and what they’d like to see improved.
- Napsterizing your knowledge: Sharing your intellectual capital in ways easily passed on to others.
- Build the buzz: Using natural networks that exist to get people talking.
- Create community: Finding ways to create a sense of belonging among your customers.
- Bite-sized chunks: Developing easily digestible pieces for new evangelists.
- Create a cause: Rallying customers around something bigger than you.
Throughout the text, the authors share case studies of successful companies known for having a strong contingent of customer evangelists (and, at the end of each chapter about them, hit on the touch points of how their businesses specifically tackle those concepts above, which makes for a great way of reenforcing the book’s key messages). I loved reading the chapter about Mark Cuban and his out-of-the-box thinking regarding his ownership of the Dallas Mavericks. And while I may scoff at the ridiculous of helping my niece build one of her bears in the store, Maxine Clark, CEO of Build-A-Bear, made for a fascinating profile too.
Great read for biz book lovers, marketing junkies and those who are self-employed.
And while I’m on this topic of creating customer evangelists, I have to give a HUGEEEE shout-out to Kelly Moore and her Kelly Moore Bag enterprise. I purchased a Kelly Moore Hobo bag while I was out in Vegas at WPPI in February and fell hard for its buttery softness. It was love at first sight! So, I took the bag with me on my trip in March to New York City. I blame my own stupidity for what happened next: I crammed FAR too much equipment into the bag, got impatient when I found myself in a situation where I didn’t have time to rearrange the contents, and then tugged WAY too hard on the zipper.
You can guess what happened next, right? It broke. I cried. Well, I didn’t CRY, but my inner voice might have yelled at myself a few times (It went something like “HOWCOULDYOUBESODUMB?!!“) After asking 2 or 3 foreign women I found at hole-in-the-wall New York dry cleaner-tailors if they fixed zippers (and getting rejected), I broke down and emailed the company, asking if they had a repairs department to fix it (fully expecting to pay for something that was my fault).
Hearing back from their sales staff within an hour’s time, I was told to share a photo of the damage, which I quickly did with my trusty iPhone. Later that day, a second email and a promise to REPLACE THE BAG!!!!! If my tiny little hotel room would have been big enough, I probably would have attempted a cartwheel right then and there. Two weeks after I got back, there was the FedEx box with my Hobo 2.0, good as new!
Now, here I am, building buzz about how incredible not only the bag is but how AMAZING Kelly’s customer service department is! I love that I had such an awesome experience with a company in a month where I read a book all about this very concept. So, THANK YOU KELLY MOORE, and you better believe you have a customer evangelist now in me!