Identifying Your Passionate Customers
Do you know who your most passionate customers are? They may not be the ones who spend the most money or use your product the most. However, they are incredibly valuable in growing your business. They are ambassadors for your brand, vocal and proud, and often do so without formal programs or incentives. Passionate customers are critical to product managers in the early stages of understanding product-market fit. In addition, it is worth seeking them out to create messaging about the value of your products and services.
So, how do you identify your most passionate customers? The key is to not focus on product usage, but recognize how they blatantly show their pride when doing so. These are your “cheeseheads” – an analogy I have found helpful that refers to the great fans of the Green Bay Packers. If you’ve ever seen a Packers game at Lambeau Field, you’ve seen the waves of fans with hats shaped like giant triangular shapes of cheese. They always cheer loud and proud from kickoff to the clock hitting zero. Simply put, they are the living definition of pride and passion.
Finding your “cheeseheads” requires looking beyond usage patterns or purchases. It’s as much art as science, but there are key indicators.
Passionate customers may not buy the most, but they will refer to their purchase many times in the months after.
Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton count on this aspirational quality – most social mentions are about that one coveted LV bag, not from their wealthy customers with a closet full of goodies (who most certainly are driving 70%+ of profits). Mission-driven brands do well here too, with products receiving many mentions long after purchase. My favorite source to check is when new customers indicate “word of mouth” as how they found your site/brand. Simply put, you need to ask them exactly who and where!
They contact customer support to offer suggestions rather than complaining.
Customer support call/email records/reviews are one of my favorite places to find passionate customers. By digging into the content, you’ll find a distinct tone and voice, proactively offering suggestions, help, and new feature requests, often even when your product is not working 100%. That tone indicates a profound level of respect for your product.
They are first to give your company praise.
With every new feature or product improvement announcement, passionate customers are the first ones to give your company praise, often acknowledging they “knew they made the right choice” by backing you in the early days. These are loyal fans in it for the long haul.
They propagate your brand just by using it.
How did Lime and Bird grow their scooter businesses to billions in market cap in less than a year? Everyone sees those scooters getting used (and generally having fun doing so). Yelp stickers in the windows of restaurants attract more business, and in turn, more reviewers. Elite frequent flyers get their own special line to board the plane. Fitbits, Teslas, branded apparel – whether conscious or not, passionate customers do a lot for you just by being them. This is a great opportunity for organic marketing.
Once you identify your passionate customers, be sure to dialogue with them regularly. You can do this informally (direct emails and t-shirts go a long way), semi-formally (surveys, etc.), or start laying the groundwork for a more formal membership/advisory/ambassador program that can publicly acknowledge their voice and contribution. The qualitative input of passionate customers makes a good match to quantitative data in product strategy presentations as well. If you refer to passionate customers enough, you’ll find lots of people in your company will get to know them by name.
About the speaker
Scott Dunlap is a data-driven technology executive and investor that loves to build great teams and delightful products by nurturing brands through product-market fit and hypergrowth. Scott has worked with many innovative teams in both large and small companies to launch 60+ products, including many #1 mobile apps (NearbyNow, GQ, Seventeen, Vogue, Mtailor, etc.), smart home systems (Brilliant), consumer products (JUUL, PAX, Paypal, etc.), cloud computing (Opsware, Avolent), analytics (E.piphany, Kahuna, Apptimize, etc.), and more.