Instead of marketing “at” the fans, what if we marketed “about” and “for” our fans? This was the premise of a recent American Marketing Association lecture by Meredith Oliver.
One of the reasons why this type of approach works is because audiences are constantly being bombarded every day with thousands of marketing messages. Even if your product or service is the solution, how is what you are saying to them any different than everything else they hear?
The way to stand out, as Oliver points out, is to create an audience of “superfans”. There are four main areas where superfans can be reached. The first is the sense of an identity. The example Oliver uses is a football fan, decked out in team colors on a Sunday afternoon. During the week this person is a dentist, accountant, salesperson, etc. but on Sunday they are a football fan; it’s their identity. Next is their self-esteem: when the team does well, they feel better about themselves. Escapism is next, which speaks to the audience feeling like they can leave the rest of their world behind when dealing with the object of their fandom. The last one is a sense of belonging, which also speaks to the camaraderie behind their support.
How To Market To Superfans
Once you have the superfan audience in mind, the next step is to market to them. Oliver notes that there are four steps in doing this successfully. The first is to find the universal truths of your audience, which are widely held beliefs of your target audience, usually aspirational in nature. The key thing to remember here is that you personally do not even have to believe the universal truth. The fact that your audience does makes it imperative to believe it in the marketing sense. Once you have their universal truths down, next you need to lean in and center your marketing around one of them. Oliver points out a marketing adage at this point which is if you market to all, you are really marketing to no one.
The next step is to identify the marketing experience and customer experience as they relate to what you are marketing. Think about these experiences and where your customers are currently getting their needs met. How does this compare to what you are offering? Lastly, position your product as the solution. Imagery is key here, Oliver says, and some of the best tactics are to use the images of families, communities, and even custom photography.
The key takeaways from this presentation were that in order to make your marketing about your fans, you need to flip your brand message to be fan-centric. Writing copy and selecting graphics that appeal to your fans is a big step in Fan-tastic Marketing.