Seven Ways to Convert Your Superfans into CustomersI’ve been thinking a lot about this blogging thing lately and whether or not we’re converting our superfans to clients or referral partners.

You see, the big, big vision of Spin Sucks is to change the perception of the PR industry. It may not happen in my lifetime, but I want it to be my legacy.

It’s somewhat selfish because I’m tired of having prospects call me to say they’re looking for a PR firm, only to discover they really mean they want their name in lights.

Of course, that’s one tactic communications professionals use, but because it’s so hard to measure to something most executives really care about (money), clients don’t stay with you long if that’s all you do.

There is still lots and lots of education about how we work, what the industry does, and how we measure our efforts to real results.

Revisit the Basics

It’s exhausting sometimes. I’m exhausted.

Then I read a quote from Chris Guillebeau. He said, “If you only have a few readers, treat them like the most important people in the world” and suddenly I was reinvigorated.

Sure, we have more than a few readers now and yes, we do treat our superfans like the most important people in the world with things such as #FollowFriday and Gin and Topics and guest blogging.

But we no longer do some of the things that helped us get where we are today and I thought it’d do me some good (and hopefully you too) to revisit the basics.

Convert Your Superfans

Therefore, I give you the seven step guide to convert your superfans into customers or a referral network.

1. Find your superfans. Sometimes it’s easy to tell who your superfans are because they begin to comment on your blog consistently. Our superfans change. For instance, Joe Cardillo and Dwayne Alicie, while long-time readers, have just joined the community in the comments here. I know this because I pay attention.

But what if your superfans are not commenters? Dig into your analytics to find out who clicks through in their email subscription every day, who shares your stuff on the social networks, and whether or not they’re reaching out to you in other ways (email, friend requests, or phone calls). Scott Propp is one such superfan. He’s been sharing our stuff on Twitter for a few months. He was in Chicago last week and I had the opportunity to meet him. While he won’t work directly with us, we found a way to refer business to one another. This will create a business opportunity from a reader and we’ll be friends for life.

2. Give your superfans a name. I call you the crazies. I’m sure you’ve heard me say this before. When people ask me how I’ve created such a fun community here, I say, “Oh. You mean the crazies?” I mean that lovingly, of course (because I’m crazy, too), but it’s hard to find another place on the web where people convene to talk to one another almost more than they come to talk to the author. You’ve become friends, highlight each other on your blogs, and meet in person. The only thing I take credit for is giving you a place to chat and have fun and open discussions. It’s pretty freaking awesome.

3. Keep them on your radar. With TweetDeck going away (I’m so sad!), users have an opportunity to rebuild their lists that might be six years old (cough, cough). Add them to your Twitter lists, Google+ circles and communities, LinkedIn groups, or private Facebook groups.

4. Conduct live webcasts, Hangouts, or Q&As. I love to do this one through our author Livefyre Q&A (don’t miss Chris Brogan here one week from today!) and through our monthly Spin Sucks Pro webinars, but you could do a monthly Hangout like Lori Gosselin does or have an active Google+ community like Jeannie Walters. Do what works for you so your superfans can have access to you.

5. Personally reach out to readers. Andy Crestodina does this extremely well. For people in Chicago, he does monthly Wine and Web events and on Thursday nights at 6 p.m., he goes to the same bar so anyone who wants to show up can. He also wrote a blog post for us in which he posted his phone number…and people called him!

You can take it a step further by finding your superfans and writing them a handwritten note, sending an email, calling them, or finding a reason to meet in person. Talk about moving superfans into giving you their first born child. It works.

6. Create content for specific people. You can do this by mentioning them in your posts (like I’ve done here), doing special posts such as #FollowFriday, or writing content because of a request (don’t worry, Brad Marley…it’s coming).

7. Post photos of gifts. This is a strange one, but when you accumulate superfans, they send you gifts. The best thing you can do for them? Publicly thank them by taking a picture and posting to your social networks and tag them. This doesn’t come across as narcissistic, rather it makes the person feel good to know you care enough to go that extra step.

Of course, that means some people will take advantage and you can decide how to handle those individually, but on the whole, most will be really excited you highlighted them in that way.

While I do most of this instinctually and as part of my daily routine, I am going to focus on numbers one and five in the next 30 days to see where it goes.

What works for you?

P.S. Thanks to Andy for the idea for this post. I was searching his blog for something else and came across his four step guide to creating superfans. I took the idea and turned it into converting to customers or a referral network.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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