Rock stars and fans. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. Batman and Robin. Lindsay Lohan and house arrest... Well, you get the idea.

So why don't more companies have fans like rock stars? If you said "because everyone's naturally a fan of music," you'd be partly correct. True, rock stars do create products that are easy to be fans of. But it can't be just about the product, because we have brands making extremely "boring" products—industrial lubricants, diapers, and orange-handled scissors—that have armies of fans.

What's their secret? Why do rock stars have fans but companies have customers? The short answer: that's what rock stars and companies want to have.

Rock stars focus their marketing on connecting with fans. That's no revelation. But that approach is grounded in solid business sense. A 2010 Satmetrix study found that evangelists (which is fancy business lingo for fans) spend 13% more than the average customer, and they refer business equal to 45% of the money they spend!

So, if the average customer is spending $100, the fan is spending $113—plus referring business worth $51! What sounds better, getting $100 of business per customer, or getting $164 from each fan?

If you said most marketers would rather have $164 per fan versus $100 per customer, you would be wrong. In fact, the top goal for US marketers is acquiring new customers. That's right: Instead of placing the priority on connecting with their most passionate customers, most brands want to grow their customer base by acquiring new customers—who have little or no loyalty toward the brand.

The problem with that approach is this: It not only results in less business per customer but also costs more to acquire that business. On average, it costs 6-7 as much to acquire a new customer versus retaining an existing one. So if the choice is between marketing to a group that spends more and costs LESS to reach, or marketing to a group that costs more to reach and spends less.... well, that's really no choice at all, is it?

If you're ready to think like a rock star and cultivate an army of fans for your brand, here are the four steps you need to take.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Mack Collier

Mack Collier is a social-media strategist based in Alabama. He helps companies build programs and initiatives that let them better connect with their customers and advocates. His podcast, The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show, discusses ways that brands can turn customers into fans. His first book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, was published in April 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

Twitter: @MackCollier

LinkedIn: Mack Collier